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Steel and trade ministries planning to get over rising Chinese imports : Sources

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NEW DELHI : Steel and trade ministries are in talks over rising imports, particularly cheap Chinese goods, a government source with direct knowledge of the matter said on Saturday, amid persistent calls for higher tariffs from top producers.

India turned net steel importer in the fiscal year that ended in March and the trend continues with its finished steel imports scaling a five-year high in April and May, according to provisional government data.

India imported 1.1 million metric tons of finished steel between April and May, up 19.8% from a year earlier.

“The steel ministry has apprised the commerce ministry on rising imports and industry has sought a probe,” the source said, declining to be identified as discussions are not public.

India is monitoring cheap Chinese imports, the source said, as China continues to be top exporter of steel to the Asia’s third-largest economy in recent months.

Major Indian steel producers such as Tata Steel have flagged Chinese imports as a “growing concern.”

India’s steel mills, alarmed by a sharp rise in imports, have repeatedly called for government interventions and higher import taxes. However, the federal Ministry of Steel has resisted such calls, citing strong local demand.

Earlier on Saturday, a senior executive at ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel India said the government should consider raising the basic customs duty on steel to 12.5% from 7.5% due to surging imports.

“Immediately, we should go back to 12.5% duty regime, which was there earlier,” said Mr. Ranjan Dhar, Director and Vice President, sales and marketing, ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel India.

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