Kolkata–India’s steel exports fell by 31.9 percent in the first 11 months of current fiscal 2015-16 compared to same period last year and exports in February 2016 declined by 25.6 percent compared to corresponding month last year, according to provisional data released by the steel ministry.

“Export of total finished steel was down by 31.9 percent in April-February 2015-16 compared to same period of last year. Exports in February 2016 increased by 21.5 percent compared to January 2016 and decreased by 25.6 percent compared to February 2015,” said a report by the ministry’s Joint Plant Committee.

Institute of Steel Development & Growth director general Sushim Banerjee told IANS that exports fell “due to a muted world market”.

“World prices have been very low and internal demand in many of the countries has shrunk. When the exports figures were taken into account, global prices were going through a bearish trend.

“Some of the global producers are even compelled to sell at a price which is lower than their cost of production. In order to sustain their capacities, global producers are exporting even at a loss,” he said.

“India’s steel sector is competitive in terms of cost of production. But some of factors like high freight cost (transporting steel from plant to port) along with taxes are playing a critical role in terms of exports. Country’s steel makers are now eyeing domestic market,” said Banerjee.

India’s total steel consumption in February (2016) grew by 4.7 percent compared to same month last year.

“For the last seven days, global prices are showing signs to go up. Exports situation are expected to be improved by April or May if global prices go up further,” he said.

At the same time, imports are also likely to fall in the coming months due to imposition of safe guard duty and minimum import prices, he said.

Meanwhile, the report said that imports in February 2016 fell by 7.3 percent compared to February 2015 and India was a net importer of total finished steel in the current fiscal so far.

Import of total finished steel at 10.215 mt in April-February 2015-16 saw a growth of 20.5 percent compared to same period of last year, it said.