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Minimum import price must continue, says Tata Steel MD

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Kolkata, June 18 (IANS) The minimum import price (MIP) imposed by the government in order to stop deluge of cheap imports of steel has been "useful" and is "something useful to have," Tata Steel Managing Director T.V. Narendran said on Saturday.

"From the steel industry point of view, the MIP has been useful. The government is evaluating it. There are different views from different end-use industries. Steel industry feels the kind of investments that we have made in the country, it (MIP) is something useful to have.

"The government should continue with it (MIP)," he said.

In February, the government imposed the MIP condition on imports of 173 steel items for six months. In March, it also extended the safeguard duty on HRC (Hot Rolled Coil) imports, placed in September 2015, till March 2018.

"If the MIP is withdrawn, we have safeguard duty. So there is some support for us," said Narendran, who is also chairman of industry chamber CII’s eastern region.

Industry sources however said India could be dragged to the World Trade Organisation on charges of being anti-trade, if the MIP is extended.

But Narendran said: "What India has done is no different from many other countries have done. The US has imposed more than 500 per cent import duty on steel imports to the US. The world is dealing with the excess capacity in some markets where the steel is not being sold based on the market economy factors."

So each government has to take a call, he said.

According to him, the international steel prices have been volatile. It went up in February-March-April, then came down for one or two months and now again it is creeping up.

"Steel industry continues to be volatile. Till the world learns to deal with excess capacity in China and China takes care their extra capacity, we will have to deal with this volatility," he said.

Regarding Tata Steel’s Kalinganager plant, Narendran said: "It is a three mtpa plant to start with, we are ramping up the capacity. In the steel industry, there is always excess capacity, our job is to be competitive and be one of the low cost producers of steel in the world which we are. We are not slowing up our Kalinganagar project."

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