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India aims to turn net steel exporter

India has the capacity of 140 million tonnes and produces over 100mt annually

Our Special Correspondent New Delhi Published 23.09.19, 07:39 PM
Dharmendra Pradhan in New Delhi on Monday.

Dharmendra Pradhan in New Delhi on Monday. PTI

The Narendra Modi-government has set a target to become a net exporter of steel in the next two-three years, banking on a strategy to sell more of the product to the Gulf countries.

“Currently we are importing 2 or 3 million tonnes of steel, in the coming two to three years, India will be a net exporter of steel for a long time to come,” steel minister Dharmendra Pradhan said.


“India has been purchasing crude oil and gas from so many countries but there is hardly any role of Indian exports in developing the infrastructure there. Now we have started asking them to give a preference to Indian steel companies for meeting their needs,” he said.

Pradhan was speaking at a ministry meet that discussed ways to make the industry globally competitive.

“To buy oil and gas, I visit various countries. I have started asking them: Will you buy our steel? I recently went to the 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 don’t have a share in it,” the minister said.

The country has the capacity of 140 million tonnes (mt) and produces over 100mt annually.

“The outcome of this Chintan Shivir (steel meet) will be within the next two-three years, India will remain a net exporter of steel for years. There will be no import,” he said. There is a need to find new ways of trade protection and trade negotiation, he added.

Pradhan 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.

Commenting on the role of free trade agreements and how they impact the sector, Pradhan said, “The domestic industry should also look at means to produce cost effective quality steel similar to other countries to gain the most from FTAs with India.”

According to official data, exports stood at 6.36mt in 2018-19, a decline of 33.87 per cent compared with the previous year.

Imports stood at 7.83mt, a growth of 4.7 per cent compared with last year, making the country a net importer of total finished steel.

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

Pradhan said there was a need to bring down the export of iron ore to zero. His comments were in light of demands to lower the export duty on high grade iron ore.

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