Jindal Stainless Ltd (JSL) MD Abhyuday Jindal has urged the government to remove import duty on raw materials in the upcoming Union Budget, a move, the industry leader said, will provide a level-playing field to domestic players. He suggested levying Basic Customs Duty (BCD) on imports as the domestic market is being affected by cheap and sub-standard stainless steel products from select group of countries like China and Vietnam. “One long-standing requirement of the stainless steel industry has been that there are certain raw materials that are not present in the country like ferro nickel and ferro molybdenum,” Jindal told.
At present, 2.5 % import duty is levied on ferro nickel and 5 % on ferro molybdenum.
Speaking further on Budget expectations, the JSL MD said severe dumping is happening from China, Vietnam, and certain countries with which India has Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).
This is putting severe pressure on MSMEs and preventing the stainless steel industry from becoming aatmanirbhar, he said.
“There was an investigation by the Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR). The way out is that we definitely need some kind of protectionist measure. Our request is that some kind of duty be levied to give some protection to stainless steel companies in India,” he said.
Jindal said DGTR has also recommended up to 19 % duty on certain grades of stainless steel being dumped into the Indian market.
DGTR — the commerce ministry’s investigation arm — is a quasi-judicial body that deals with anti-dumping duty, safeguard duty, and countervailing duty.
These duties are trade remedy measures, provided under an agreement of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to its member countries.
The MD also said the government had earlier removed import duty (2.5 %) on some raw materials like pure nickel and stainless steel scrap. The industry requests the government to continue with its decision, he said.
On the impact being made by imports, Jindal said the MSMEs in the sector are finding it very hard to compete in the market against cheaper imports and are either becoming traders or are moving out of the industry completely.
The stainless steel demand in India is growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 8-9 %.
There is a lot of potential for the industry to continue to grow over the next 10-15 years, he said.
However, he added that in the absence of a protectionist measure, the imports will continue to take advantage of this opportunity, he said.
“We expect that Budget to be growth-oriented and the government to look into the concerns of the stainless steel industry,” Jindal said.
As per official data, from July 2023 onwards, India has been a net importer of finished steel every month except for September 2023.
During November 2023, finished steel exports were lower at 2.34 lakh tonnes, compared to imports of 7.82 lakh tonnes.