Country's steel imports went up by a hefty 40% during April-August period of current fiscal to 3.354 million tonne on account of increased demand from sectors including automobiles and consumer durables.
The rise, from 2.398 million tonne (MT) a year ago, was on the back of a significant increase in imports of flat steel products -- used in automobiles, white goods and consumer durables.
Flat steel imports were at 2.898 MT over 2.1 MT in April-August period last year, Joint Plant Committee of the Steel Ministry said.
Non-flat products' import also went up during the April-August period to 0.456 MT, up 58%, compared to 0.289 MT a year ago.
"Demand remains firm with sectors like consumer durables, machinery & equipment, electricity and motor vehicles. Given the relatively slow growth in supply conditions, the present import growth may well be due to the combined demand impetus provided by these sectors," Joint Plant Committee (JPC) said.
China was the largest exporter for steel with a share of 24% of the total imports at 0.809 MT followed by South Korea at 0.657 MT. Third in the order was Japan at 0.528 MT. Ukraine and Germany followed these at 0.188 MT and 0.140 MT respectively.
"Policy provisions related to concessional import duty to items from South Korea and Japan under CEPA is also instrumental in a significant growth in imports from these nations, currently in slowdown mode with supply outstripping demand," it added.
Price consideration is another crucial factor influencing trends in imports with the relative strength in domestic prices vis-a-vis import prices, the JPC added.
The Mumbai port accounted for the largest share in the total imports of almost all the items.