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Stainless is not steel, claims industry

business Updated: Apr 21, 2008 23:15 IST
Suman Layak
Suman Layak
Hindustan Times
Stainless is not steel

The stainless steel industry is keen to not be seen as part of the steel industry, so that it can escape export curbs. The industry body has written to the finance minister and the steel minister explaining how stainless steel makers are not contributing to inflation.

Indian companies produce around 1.6 million tonne of stainless steel that is 3 per cent of total steel production of 55 million tonne. The domestic demand for stainless steel is less than 1.2 million tonne and the rest of the production is exported.

In a letter dated April 12 to the ministers, the Indian Stainless Steel Development Association has sought certain duty exemptions apart from stressing that the stainless steel industry has actually reduced prices.

“In December 2007 we managed to cut prices by Rs 90,000 a tonne after nickel prices fell,” NC Mathur, president of the association, told Hindustan Times. “When nickel prices spurted in January 2007, we had to increase prices but as soon as it fell we were able to cut prices rapidly.”

A large part of the capacity in the stainless steel industry in India is export oriented a lot of imports, said Mathur, who is also a director with Jindal Stainless Steel Ltd, the country’s largest stainless steel producer.

The association is seeking the withdrawal of 2 per cent import duty on nickel and the five per cent import duty on stainless steel melting scrap. Mathur said: “The duty reductions for stainless steel industry will have minimal impact on the government revenues.”

Mathur said there is no shortage of supply of stainless steel in the country nor any major change in price in the last two to three months.

He has said that the stainless steel industry should be “examined in exclusive separation in terms of its supply and demand in the country”.