India to be net exporter of steel for years: Pradhan

Steel Minister Dharmendra Pradhan on Monday said that in the next two-three years, India will be in a position to remain a net exporter of steel for years.

The minister was speaking at an event 'Chintan Shivir', organised by the steel ministry. The event had a theme of making the domestic steel sector "vibrant, efficient and globally competitive".

Currently, India has a production capacity of about 140 million tonne (MT) capacity and produces over 100 MT of steel annually, he said.

"We also produce saleable steel. We sometimes become importer, sometimes we are exporter. At present, we are net importer, we are importing about 2-3 MT. The outcome of this Chintan Shivir will be that within the next two-three years, India will remain a net exporter of steel for years. There will be no import," he said.

With an aim to increase exports, India has also started talking to countries from which it buys petroleum, said Pradhan, who is also the minister for petroleum and natural gas.

"To buy oil and gas, I visit various countries. I have started asking them: Will you buy our steel? I recently went to Gulf countries. I gave them an estimate about the amount of oil and gas we buy from them, and (a figure of) their consumption of steel (and informed them that) we dont have a share in it," Pradhan said stressing that there should be an exchange of trade.

There is a need to find new ways of trade protection and trade negotiation, he added.

Pradhan also said the domestic industry should also produce cost-effective and quality steel products to gain the most from free-trade agreements.

"Japan takes raw material from us, produces quality products and supplies to world. Why can't India do the same," the minister said.

According to official data, In 2018-19, exports stood at 6.36 MT, a decline of 33.87 per cent compared to the previous year. Imports stood at 7.83 MT, a growth of 4.7 per cent compared to last year. Thus, India was a net importer of total finished steel.

However, in August 2019, exports of finished steel have observed an increasing trend since July 2019.