The government on Tuesday slapped a five per cent import duty on specified iron and steel items to protect the domestic industry from cheaper imports, especially from China where inventories are building up.
Among the specified items which will attract import duty include pig iron, semi-finished, flat and long category of products.
Earlier in April, the government had withdrawn import duty on steel as part of inflation management exercise.
Welcoming the import duty, Ispat Industries Vice- Chairman and Managing Director Vinod Mittal said, "In view of the present market conditions, the industry was expecting a higher import tariff of 20 per cent."
Ever since the steel prices started nosediving and demand slumped on the back of global recession, the domestic industry has been apprehending a possible dumping of the commodity by leading steel-making nations like China, Ukraine and Thailand.
To keep cheaper imports at bay, the industry had sought a 15 per cent import duty on steel, besides levying of 14 per cent countervailing duty on imports of the commodity.
Endorsing the industry's concern, the Steel Ministry had last month recommended imposition of 10 per cent import duty on all categories of steel to the Finance Ministry.
It had also favoured the industry's demand for scrapping 15 per cent duty on exports of long steel products, which was considered by the government late last month.
To incentivise steel exports, government also restored the Duty Entitlement Passbook Scheme last week for the steel sector and included the commodity under Focus Market Scheme for exports to Latin America, Africa and Eastern Europe.