The minimum import
price (MIP) on steel
products that has cushioned the domestic industry for almost a year will end on February 4 unless extended. It has helped the Indian industry to gain some ground against cheaper import
mainly from China, South Korea and Japan.
Sanak Mishra, secretary-general, Indian Steel
Association, said MIP
was temporary relief in a market inundated with cheap Chinese import. After its imposition in February, prices of indigenously made products went up but are yet to reach the October 2014 level which is taken by the industry as a benchmark.
was first imposed for six months on 173 products. It was extended for two months in August but the list of items was pruned to 66. Again in December, the list was further shortened to 19 products.
During the year, coking coal prices, an essential raw material for making steel, rose in the international market, mainly due to disruption in supply from Australia. India meets a majority of its coking coal requirement, the cost of which is a third of the steel
industry's price structure, through import.
"The cost of one tonne of coking coal was around $80 in January 2016. In November, it had increased to $283 a tonne," said Mishra.
The industry has been deeply impacted by coking coal prices and our profitability continues to be low, an executive said.
Current coal prices are $193 a tonne, still very high, he added. Steel
companies imported six million tonnes of coking coal in April and May, according to official data.
Experts said the sector would continue to struggle since the consumption of steel
is on a decline in other countries. So, China, Japan and South Korea are looking at opportunities to sell their surplus capacity in markets like India.
The country's crude steel
production in April-December, first nine months of the financial year, was 72.2 mt. Of this, Steel
Authority of India, Rashtriya Ispat Nigam, Tata Steel, Essar Steel, JSW Steel
and Jindal Steel
& Power together produced 40.2 mt.