No need to hike import duty: Steel Min

No need to hike import duty: Steel Min New Delhi: The Steel Ministry has shot down domestic manufacturers' plea for hiking import duty on the alloy, saying there is no need to initiate such an action right now as imports have not reached an alarming level.

"Where is the need to slap import duty further on imports of steel? The imports have not gone up significantly. The fear of the steel makers is unfounded," a steel ministry official said.

According to a recent sectoral report by India Ratings and Research, steel imports grew by 24.8 percent during the January-November period of 2012 to 7 million tonne over the same period of the previous year.

The official said that given the small volume of imports, which is not more than 6-7 million tonne, any move to make them costlier might prove wrong to others who depend on steel because of limited or zero availability in the country.

"We have not requested the Finance Ministry to raise import duty on steel in our Budget proposals for the next fiscal," he said.

In the Budget 2012-13, the government enhanced basic customs duty on non-alloy, flat-rolled steel from five percent earlier to 7.5 percent.

Domestic steel makers have been clamouring for a rise in import duty to rein in 'dumping' of the alloy - which has gone up by at least 40 percent in the first six months of current fiscal.

"In order to protect interests of the domestic industry, Budget needs to revisit last year's hike in excise duty and take steps to discourage dumping of products," Tata Steel's Managing Director H M Nerurkar said in his Budget wish-list.

"No dumping of steel should be allowed in India. The main challenge is China. They produce 750 million tonne steel, and can easily dump it in India. If that happens, then the baby (Indian steel industry) will die in its cradle," he said.

PTI