India’s steel ministry is counting on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to support its proposal to toughen anti-dumping rules, a government source said, on Friday.
Because of the distress in India’s steel industry, the ministry had written a letter to the trade ministry seeking to change anti-dumping rules, the source added.
The letter requested altering anti-dumping rules which remained unchanged for two decades
to reflect only the dumping margin. Such a move would effectively raise the duty and bring India in line with the United States and Canada, while meeting World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, the source said.
But the trade ministry turned down the proposal. Trade Secretary Rita Teaotia said current rules were internationally accepted and followed, among others, by the European Union.
“They are asking us to amend the rules, but they are looking at only one country, the United States,” Teaotia told Reuters.
The steel ministry was now considering approaching the federal planning body, Niti Aayog, or the Prime Minister’s office to press its case, according to the government source.
India is among a number of countries that are tightening rules against cheap exports from countries such as China and South Korea.
Indian companies accuse countries like South Korea, Japan, Russia and especially China, which produces nearly half of the world’s 1.6 billion tonnes of steel, of unfairly flooding local markets with cheap products and undercutting them as demand slackens at home.
India last week extended a safeguard import tax on some steel products until 2018 and imposed a floor price on overseas purchases in February, but companies such as JSW Steel,
Tata Steel and Kalyani Steels have been lobbying for more stringent measures.
Indian steelmakers say a change in anti-dumping rules would prevent the steel industry from dying out and stave off the dependence of sectors such as engineering goods on imports.
“What we have been trying to explain to the user industry is that we are part of the same value chain,” said Seshagiri Rao, joint managing director at JSW Steel.
“If I am impacted today and you don’t support us – because it is unfair trade which is happening - the same thing will happen to you,” he added.
China’s commerce ministry did not respond to requests for comment on the impact any changes to anti-dumping rules might have on its exporters.