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India considers raising steel import duties to curb China shipments


India is considering raising import duties on steel after domestic steelmakers complained about surging shipments from China, and a decision may be taken in the next two to three days, the Steel and Mines Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said.

Steel imports from China, the world's biggest producer of the alloy, doubled in April-September from a year earlier, prompting JSW Steel Ltd (JSTL.NS) and other Indian steelmakers to ask for higher import tariffs.

"We have received several letters from Indian steel companies seeking help to compete with imports from China," Tomar said on Wednesday. He did not say by how much the duties will be raised. Currently the duties are in the range of 5 percent to 7.5 percent.

Struggling with overcapacity at home, China has boosted exports of steel qualifying for a generous tax exemption to countries like India and Japan, triggering accusations that mills there are taking advantage of the rebate to sell surplus steel cheaply.

A tonne of reinforcement steel produced in India for use in buildings can cost up to 15,000 rupees ($244) more than that from China, according to A.S. Firoz, chief economist at a research unit of India's steel ministry.

Indian companies, meanwhile, are struggling with a shortage of iron ore and coking coal that has pushed up their costs.

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