The Government is holding negotiations with the US on 25% import tariff imposed on steel, Union Steel Minister Chaudhary Birender Singh said at an ASSOCHAM event held in New Delhi.
“Negotiations are still going on there may be some sort of understanding, (but) if we have to take certain steps to safeguard our interest, we will certainly take,” said Singh while inaugurating an ASSOCHAM Steel Summit held in New Delhi.
He also said that the issue likely to be discussed at the Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity to be held in Paris on September 19-20. “Actually that conference is on how to curtail the excess production to avoid imbalance in trade but this issue will also crop up there.”
Mr. Singh said that while India is on its way to become world’s second largest steel producer and will be the leader in consumption growth in the world in next 5-10 years, it will have to focus on value addition and production as per country’s requirements.
“Attaining cost leadership, achieving best quality standards, producing wide range of products and maximum value addition will be crucial for maintaining our leadership position in the global steel industry,” said the Union Minister.
Talking about the global challenges being faced by India’s steel sector, Mr Singh highlighted trade issues with the US and European Union (EU), sudden change in Rupee exchange value, dumping of steel by other countries and fluctuation in raw material prices.
“At home logistics and transportation of raw material and finished products, upcoming expiry of mining licences in 2020 and resultant auction of mines and others are few of the challenges,” he said.
The Minister further said that Government is aware of the challenges which are dynamic and large-scale, and is working in tandem with other stakeholders to overcome the same. “Our Ministry is keeping a close watch on international developments affecting steel market and are in constant touch with Ministry of Commerce and Finance Ministry to take remedial measures as and when required as we have done in the past.”
Highlighting the need to increase exports and decrease imports, he said, “That is possible only if our products are competitive and meet the price quality and delivery requirements.”
He added that India will have to go much beyond the minimum stipulated quality standards to become top quality steel producer. “Steel producers in India both big and small, will have to move to clean and green technologies to attain self-sufficiency not only in steel production but also in building equipment and material for making steel plants is critical.”
The Minister further said that India should promote innovation instead of technology transfer and encourage scientists and engineers to move in different direction.
In his address, ASSOCHAM president, Mr Sandeep Jajodia lauded the Government of India for taking number of proactive measures to ensure rapid growth of Indian steel sector.
Sharing his perspective, ASSOCHAM’s secretary general, Mr Uday Kumar Varma said that Indian steel industry has good prospects for coming years, more so looking at the government’s thrust on promoting innovation along with research and development.