* Imports for critical projects allowed
* Quality certificates needed from country of origin
By Krishna N Das
NEW DELHI, Aug 7 India said on Wednesday some
steel products can be imported for certain critical applications
without local quality certification, a move that could further
hit domestic suppliers after imports rose 15 percent last fiscal
Imports into India, the world's fourth-largest producer,
rose to 7.87 million tonnes, worth $6 billion, in the year ended
March 2013 as mills operated below capacity due to a shortage of
iron ore. Japan, South Korea and China are the top exporters.
India said imports for projects in sectors such as
infrastructure, petroleum, nuclear reactors and defence would be
exempted from applicable local quality standards if at least 10
billion rupees is invested in such a project. ($162 million).
The exporters will, however, have to obtain quality
certificates from their country of origin, a notification from
the commerce and industry ministry said.
"This will help companies like Larsen & Toubro and
Reliance Industries import steel specific to their
needs, without the supplier having to go through the hassles of
getting local certification," said a steel ministry official.
The senior official, who requested anonymity, said that
domestic steel companies might oppose the move as a
local-certification rule had acted as an indirect trade barrier.
Tata Steel Ltd, JSW Steel Ltd, Jindal
Steel & Power Ltd and Essar Steel are the
top steel makers in India, Asia's third-largest economy.
"This move will destroy the industry that is already
suffering from raw material shortages and higher imports," said
D.S. Rawat, secretary general of lobby group ASSOCHAM.
ASSOCHAM will send a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
on Thursday requesting him to reconsider the decision, Rawat
($1 = 61.4475 Indian rupees)
(Editing by Keiron Henderson)