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India tightening restrictions vs. hot-rolled coil, plate imports

Keywords: Tags  India imports, steel imports, Bureau of Indian Standards, BIS, hot-rolled coil, plate, boron-added steel, Suresh Nair

MUMBAI, India — India is taking a tougher stance on steel imports, with previously allowed products facing import restrictions beginning April 1.

Mills seeking to sell their steel products into India must register with the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) in New Delhi unless the products are on the bureau’s import exemption list.

Products no longer to be exempt starting April 1 include hot-rolled coil less than 6-millimeters thick and plate more than 80-mm thick.

India’s Central Board of Excise and Customs hasn’t received further amendments to the latest BIS notification restricting imports from steel mills not registered with the agency, customs commissioner Yogendra Garg said. Indian importers will still be able to import certain steel products specifically excluded from the restrictions.

However, a lack of clarity on whether material grades in exporting nations are equivalent to those in India has importers unsure if they can risk bringing in steel products listed as exempt from the order.

"The order is not very clear," one Indian importer said. "It says that some of the items are allowed to be imported, but how can we be sure if the customs department will allow it, as the grades of material will be (defined by) the exporting country? We do not know for sure what the comparable grade in India will be. Everything will depend on whether we can convince the customs officer that these grades are exempt. There is no comparative table that has been drawn up. For example, Chinese SS400 is equivalent to Indian IS2062, but the comparison of most other grades can easily be disputed by the customs officer."

Boron-added steel can still be imported even if the exporting mill hasn’t registered with the BIS.

Some materials, such as cold-rolled coil, which generally are imported in huge quantities, also are exempt from the BIS restrictions.

Most Chinese companies exporting to India haven’t yet registered with the BIS, a second importer said.

"(Chinese) material cannot be imported unless there is boron content in it," a trader said.

Some large mills that have registered with the BIS include ArcelorMittal SA’s operations in Brazil, Romania and Spain; South Korea’s Posco Ltd.; China Steel Corp., Taiwan; and JFE Steel Corp. and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp., both based in Tokyo.

Most traders said that, to their knowledge, Russian and Ukrainian mills haven’t yet registered with the BIS, which will make imports from these nations difficult.

A version of this article was first published by AMM sister publication Steel First.

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