NEW DELHI An arm of the Indian finance ministry has recommended maintaining import duties on some steel products until March 2018, a government document showed on Wednesday, in a move to support the local steel industry and protect mills from cheaper imports.
The government imposed a provisional safeguard import duty for 200 days on some steel products in September 2015 and last month set a floor price on imports to deter countries such as China from undercutting local mills, the first such move in more than 15 years.
Steel imports into India, the only major market where steel demand is growing, dropped for a fourth straight month in February. However, companies such as JSW Steel, Tata Steel and Kalyani Steels continued to lobby for more protectionist measures as imports weighed on their margins.
The chief of the Directorate General of Safeguards, a division of the finance ministry, said an investigation found that cheap overseas purchases of steel were causing serious injury to India, the world's third-largest steel producer, and the imposition of safeguard duty would be in the public interest. (bit.ly/1XuFrrl)
The Director of Safeguards recommended a 20 percent import tax for hot-rolled flat products of non-alloy and other alloy steel in coils of 600 mm width or more for the first year, minus anti-dumping duty, the document showed.
The duty could be lowered every six months after the first year and by March 2018 could be levied at 10 percent depending on the value of the goods, the director recommended.
Such recommendations from the safeguards department are generally accepted by the finance ministry because they come after detailed investigations.
(Editing by Sunil Nair and David Goodman)
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