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India’s plan to curb steel imports could hit small mills

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Steps by India to protect its large steelmakers from a flood of cheap imports could end up closing scores of small, local firms that process the metal, industry analysts and executives said.

These processors currently buy imported steel at up to 20 percent below India`s pricier, domestic steel, turning it into finished steel products for industrial use.

But after months of lobbying by its largest steelmakers such as JSW Steel Ltd and Tata Steel Ltd , India last month raised duties on some steel imports by up to 2.5 percentage points, with more increases expected.

India`s steel imports had jumped around 70 percent to over 9 million tonnes in the year to end-March, with a surge of cheaper purchases from China accounting for about a third of the total. Imports soared 55 percent in April-May.