After Steel, Aluminium Giants Bat For Import Protection

19 August 2016

After the steel industry got the government to impose minimum import price on select steel products to protect the domestic industry against the onslaught of cheap imports, giants of the aluminium industry are now lobbying for similar relief.

Industry body, Aluminium Association of India, met Mines Minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday with a proposal seeking interim relief from cheap imports or imposition of minimum import price to protect the domestic industry. The association represents established players including Vedanta Ltd., Hindalco Ltd., National Aluminium Company Ltd., Bharat Aluminium Company Ltd. and others.

 The association raised red flags about increasing imports from China and West Asia, and sought similar safeguards that the government has recently provided to the domestic steel industry.

The Director General of Safeguards had earlier recommended imposition of 5 percent safeguard duty for 200 days on unwrought aluminium imports.
Safeguards for Domestic Steel Industry

The government on August 5 extended the minimum import price on 66 steel products for a period of two months as against 173 items earlier.

The government also proposed a provisional anti-dumping duty on August 2 on imports of hot-rolled steel products on the recommendation of the Directorate General of Anti-Dumping & Allied Duties.

Mines Minister Piyush Goyal told BloombergQuint on the sidelines of an event, that India can become a self-reliant country if imports are reduced.

    Putting up safeguard duty is for finance ministry and Commerce Ministry to work on. We work on giving data for the industry. I am sure aluminium companies are in dialogue with ministries concerned. Will consider all data and give our validation of the data to concerned ministries regarding aluminum sector.

Piyush Goyal, Mines Minister

Tom Albanese, Chief Executive Officer of Vedanta Resources, who was part of the meeting, highlighted the need to protect domestic companies like Vedanta who are aiming at reaching their full capacity in coming months.

“It was quite clear from the minister that he does not want this to be seen walling around. He expressed to us the sense of emergency. What he asked us to do was to refresh our proposals, had particular questions and wants documentation on the same. In particular, he wanted to see if we were working with aluminium consumers rather than having two different points of view. The ministry and government officers saw that we are looking for solutions not just on our own but with consumers on board,” said Albanese.

Confident that the government and industry will work towards bringing in safeguards like the MIP in the aluminium industry, Satish Pai, Managing Director of Hindalco, told BloombergQuint, “India’s growth story cannot be hijacked by cheap imports from China and other countries.”

“We are looking at filing anti-dumping and countervailing duty applications soon. Almost 50 per cent of aluminium consumed in India is being imported and we need to reduce that going forward,” said Pai.

On whether the government has given any timeline for possible MIP roll-out for the aluminium sector, Vedanta’s Albanese said, “My own perspective is that the candle has been lit on all of us though I would like to see something happening in next two weeks.”

Hindalco’s Pai said it will be difficult to ascertain any timeline as the government has not indicated their final decision. “We are hoping that the government will move fast but I don’t think we can give any timeline for that,” said Pai.


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