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India likely to turn net steel importer in FY 2022-2023


Hot-rolled coil accounts for 35% imported steel over April-Feb

Russia, Vietnam displace Indonesia, Taiwan among top 5 suppliers

Competitive prices draw buyers towards seaborne volumes: sources

  • Author
  • Clement Choo    Rituparna Nath
  • Editor
  • Adithya Ram
  • Commodity
  • Metals
  • Tags
  • Flat steel

India is likely to swing to becoming a net importer of finished steel in the financial year ending March 31, 2023, showed provisional data from the Joint Plant Committee.

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In the year ended March 31, 2022, India was a net exporter of finished steel, with outflows of 13.49 million mt versus imports of 4.67 million mt.

The country's exports of finished steel over April 2022-February 2023 fell 52% on the year to 5.90 million mt while imports rose 29.5% to 5.59 million mt.

Exports of finished steel consistentlyposted year-on-year falls over April 2022-February 2023 while imports recorded annual gains from June 2022 to February 2023.

Flat steel made up the bulk of the imports at 5.19 million mt, or about 92.8%. Hot-rolled coil accounted for most of the flat steel imports with 1.42 million mt, up 84.2% year on year, followed by galvanized plain/corrugated sheet and coil at 0.822 million mt (up 23.2%) and cold-rolled coil/sheet at 0.346 million mt (up 10.4%).

HR coil/strip was the most imported steel product at 1.96 million mt, accounting for about 35% of finished steel imports.

Surge in imports from Russia, Vietnam

According to Indian market participants, buyers are currently receiving abundant seaborne volumes from Japan, Russia and Vietnam.

"The price of these seaborne cargoes are about Rupee 58,500/mt ($711.71) on delivered Mumbai basis currently and there is no dearth of cargoes in the market," a Mumbai-based trader said.

Platts assessed domestic HRC of 2.5-10 mm thickness at Rupee 59,500/mt ex-works Mumbai March 27, showed data from S&P Global Commodity Insights.

"Indian consumers often opt for finished steel products like HRC, CRC from duty-free origins due to competitive prices. The landed price of seaborne HRC which arrived in Mumbai last month [February] was around Rupee 49,000/mt on delivered Mumbai basis while the market price was already at Rupee 59,000-60,000/mt ex-works Mumbai levels," an Indian mill source said.

South Korea was the leading source of the imports at 2.04 million mt, up 9.7%, followed by China with 1.34 million mt, up 71.4%, all on a year-on-year basis. In third place was Japan with 0.768 million mt, up 22.8%.

Russia and Vietnam took the number four and five positions with sharp hikes in their shipments to India. Russian steel volumes surged by over 6.1 times from April 2021-February 2022 to 0.31 million mt while Vietnam delivered 0.286 million mt, more than quadruple the levels from a year earlier.

Indonesia and Taiwan were the fourth and fifth largest suppliers, respectively, a year earlier.

The bulk of the Russian imports was HR coil/strip at 0.227 million mt while 0.177 million mt of HR coil/strip was imported from Vietnam, compared with no volumes a year earlier.

Electrical steel sheets was the most imported product from Russia over April 2021-February 2022 while galvanized plain/corrugated sheet was the most imported product from Vietnam.

Flat steel products were the most exported item at 5.13 million mt, down 52% from a year earlier. HR coil/strips were the most exported product at 2.84 million mt, or about 39% of overall finished steel imports. The HR coil/strip export volumes represented a 50.3% fall year on year.

According to market participants, Indian exporters who earlier received premiums on offers made for E350 and E450 grade coils had stopped receiving them as Vietnam and Japan began offering material at competitive rates.

The fall in exported steel has persisted even though India reversed its stance on export duties on steel raw materials and products Nov. 19, 2022, after they were unexpectedly implemented May 22, 2022.