India imported 4.26 MT finished steel in April- November 2023 and the import may touch 6 MT mark in the current fiscal mainly on account of strong domestic demand, according to a report by Crisil.
The report comes at a time when steel players are registering strong concerns of surging imports.
Global steel demand, which has been subdued since the onset of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, is expected to grow 1.6 per cent in 2023, after a sharp fall of 3.3 per cent in 2022, the global analytics company said.
The tepid rate of growth rides largely on a buoyant 13 per cent growth in demand in India, which has bucked the trend so far, Crisil said.
This fiscal, the steel sector in India is poised to clock its third consecutive year of double-digit growth at 11-13 per cent after growing 11.4 per cent and 13.4 per cent in fiscals 2022 and 2023, respectively.
"Strong domestic demand, supported by government spending on infrastructure, building and construction segments, is expected to keep India's steel imports elevated around the 6 MT (million tonne) mark this fiscal even as the global steel industry battles a slowdown," Crisil said.
Chinese mills have started pushing volumes into the global market at highly competitive prices. Between January-November this year, exports from China increased 35.6 per cent to 82.7 MT - the highest since 2016.
Chinese exports to India have also surged.
As of November this fiscal, India imported 4.26 MT of finished steel, up 13.4 per cent on-year even as its exports declined 6.2 per cent to 4.03 MT, making the country a net importer of finished steel.
"Last fiscal, steel imports were around 5.6 per cent of domestic demand at 6.7 MT. We expect imports to be around 5.5 per cent mark this fiscal, too," Sehul Bhatt, Associate Director, Research, Crisil Marketing Intelligence and Analytics, said.
Although global prices increased in November, by 23 per cent in the US and 6 per cent in Europe, a few domestic steel mills have cut prices by Rs 1,500 per tonne in December from the October list prices with an eye on local demand, Bhatt said.