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Govt should take import-restricting measures: Muthuraman

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Lending voice to the industry's demand for anti-dumping duty, Managing Director today said the government should take measures to protect the sector from cheap imports of the commodity.

"We need to ensure that dumping does not take place. We need to ensure that we have good mechanisms to protect the Indian industry from unusually low priced imports," Muthuraman said.

Though admitting that steel prices in India are a notch higher than global rates due to firming up of domestic demand, Muthuraman said there is a need for anti-dumping measures to ensure that low-priced imports does not hit domestic steel firms.

"The Indian prices are marginally higher than most parts of the world. Therefore, there is going to be little bit of pressure in India from imported material. There could be some dumping taking place, we need to take care of that," he said.

The steel companies, including Tata Steel, Essar and Ispat Industries had in November last year filed a petition for imposition of anti-dumping duty on steel, saying the surge in imports from countries like China may hit them.

Following the request, the government initiated a pre- investigation into the dumping of steel in the Indian market and at present is understood to be studying the responses of different parties.

After the assessment, if the government is convinced of steel dumping, it may impose a provisional anti-dumping duty for a short period, and initiate a detailed investigation into the arrivals of the commodity that may take 1.5-3 years.

Meanwhile, as an interim measure, the industry has also voiced for a temporary safeguard levy to fend off cheaper imports. The government is expected to take a decision on a safeguard against cheaper imports within two months.

Global steel prices have almost halved to $400-500 a tonne from early 2008 levels on account of the slump in worldwide demand for the commodity amid the economic slowdown. However, bucking the global trend, India has shown early signs of revival, with the recent surge in steel demand from the core sectors that the Indian domestic industry says is an attractive proposition to the global steel majors to route their cheaper items in India.

"India is the only shining star ...April on April India has done well. I do see signs of revival as far as India is concerned but I do not see signs of revival in the global steel production and consumption," Muthuraman added.

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