"The government had removed customs duty on pure nickel in the last budget, it didn't help the industry much since most of nickel used by stainless steel makers is in the form ferro-nickel," the ISSDA said.
The same relief should now be extended to ferro-nickel, it demanded. The import duty on ferro-nickel is 2.5 per cent.
The raw material has to be necessarily imported because India hardly has any nickel resources, the association said.
The industry body also said that since all the stainless steel is produced through electric furnaces, stainless steel scrap is the main raw material which also provides cost effective source of alloying elements like chrome and nickel.
The scrap is also not available in the country and has to be imported, the body said asking the government to bring the customs duty for stainless steel scrap to zero from 2.5 per cent at present.
ISSDA President K K Pahuja said, "It is absolutely necessary to preserve competitiveness of Indian stainless steel industry at a time when government is building new trade relations with other countries and we appeal to the Finance Ministry to remove basic custom duty on both ferro-nickel and stainless steel scrap."
The Union Budget for 2018-19 will be presented on February 1.
Steel Secretary Aruna Sharma had earlier told PTI that along with ferro-nickel, the steel ministry had pitched for bringing down import duty on stainless steel scrap to zero.
The steel ministry had already made a request to the finance ministry in this regard, she had said.