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Mixed bag for steel exports

Mumbai, Dec. 5: The scrapping of import tariffs on steel by the US is expected to aid domestic companies in expanding their presence in other markets as leading global producers shift their focus to the world’s largest economy.

Reacting to the lifting of tariffs by US President George Bush, some steel industry analysts said the only beneficiaries will be the galvanised and cold-rolled producers. Exports of hot-rolled coils from India to the US still invite anti-dumping duties.

“The lifting of sanctions by the US will not have a great impact on us because anti-dumping on hot-rolled coils still continues,” an official from a leading steel company said.

Analysts said while the impact of lifting of tariffs will be minimal for leading producers like Essar Steel, whose focus is largely on hot-rolled coils and other value-added products, it would also be the same for Ispat Industries, Tisco and Jindal Iron and Steel. Yet domestic steel producers, who have been reaping huge benefits in view of firm international prices, aver that the move could bring its own advantages indirectly.

“We can start concentrating more on markets of West Asia or China as European producers will now focus more on the US market,” the official added.

For instance, the tariffs had affected ThyssenKrupp Steel, the steel division of German heavy industry giant ThyssenKrupp, to the tune of 2 per cent of its total sales.

The lifting of tariffs came after the WTO ruled that the tariffs were illegal and major trading partners of the US contemplated massive retaliation.

The tariffs of up to 30 per cent were imposed under section 201 of the US trade law, which allows the country to protect an industry that is hit by foreign competition. The US administration has clarified that it would monitor imports to avert “dumping” at unfair prices, despite the lifting of tariffs.

Steel firms’ petition

The Calcutta High Court today dismissed a writ petition by leading steel producers like Essar Steel and Ispat Group, seeking imposition of anti-dumping duties against import of steel from foreign countries at lower prices.

Dismissing the petition filed by Indofar Society consisting of Essar and Ispat groups and supported by Steel Authority of India Ltd and Tata Steel, a division bench of the high court also vacated an interim order directing the Centre to maintain the floor price of hot-rolled steel till the disposal of the case.

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