Steel exports surge in February, but India still net importer

India’s steel exports saw 21-odd per cent increase in February, over January, to 1 million tonnes (mt), while imports flattened at 0.76 mt, a report by the Steel Ministry, accessed by businessline show.India was a net exporter for the second straight month this year.

Also read: Steel demand to slow down next fiscal: ICRA

On a year-on-year (y-o-y) basis, outbound shipments increased 78 per cent in February and finished steel shipments coming-in for the month went up 29 per cent.

Exports stood at 0.8 mt in January 2024, while imports was 0.77 mt for the month.

According to a Steel Ministry official, the import situation is “gradually improving” and it is being closely monitored. The fluctuations are seen as a short term phenomenon.

Deficit comes down

Increase in exports saw the country bring down the deficit (in volume terms) between shipments going out and coming in.

India continued to be a net importer at 0.9 mt for the first 11 months of FY24 (April – February), with the gap narrowing by 0.2 mt. For 11MFY24, imports were at 7.58 mt — up 36 per cent y-o-y, while exports were at 6.65 mt — up 13 per cent.

Imports outpaced exports during the April to Jan period by 1.1 mt, the highest in recent times.

“Exports are witnessing an up-trend over the last few months with Q4 (Jan – Mar) seen as a seasonally strong quarter. Global production glut is down. Imports have stabilised too. So if all things remain constant, the difference (between export and import) should even out soon,” an exporter said.

As per the Steel Ministry report, exports of non-alloy steel — which is the key offering — saw an over 100 per cent y-o-y increase in February to 0.98 mt, accounting for majority of shipments made. In February 2023, the exports were at 0.49 mt. On the other hand, alloyed and stainless steel exports saw a 44 per cent increase to 50,000 tonnes. Exports in the segment stood at 90,000 tonnes in the year-ago period.

Also read: Three years after JSW Steel-BPSL deal, uncertainty still looms large

For imports, non-alloyed steel shipments coming in saw a 42 per cent increase to 0.61 mt last month, while alloyed and stainless steel shipments declined by 4 per cent to 0.155 mt. In the year-ago-period, non alloyed steel imports stood at 0.43 mt while alloyed and stainless steel shipments were at 0.161 mt.

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