NEW DELHI: India's steel exports grew by 0.4 per cent in the first six months of the current fiscal which the "worried" domestic producers attribute to higher cost of production and growing dominance of China in the global market.
India exported 2.69 million tonne steel during the April- September period of 2014-15, compared to 2.68 MT in the same period of last fiscal, according to the data compiled by the Joint Plant Committee, a unit under the Steel Ministry.
Compared with large imports, which grew by 26.9 per cent during the period to 3.8 MT, India remained a net importer of steel during the period. India is world's fourth largest steel producer now.
"We are not in a position to compete with the producers in other countries mainly because our cost of production is higher. Even as iron ore price is on the wane in other parts, we are not getting relief domestically," an official with a private sector steel maker said.
"We are worried as country's steel consumption is also not growing at a sluggish rate. The 0.5 per cent growth in the first half of current fiscal does not send any positive signal," he added.
India had exported 5.56 MT steel in 2013-14, clocking a 4.1 per cent growth over the previous fiscal. During 2013-14, imports dipped by 31.3 per cent to 5.44 MT over 2012-13.
A senior official with a public sector steel maker said the waning exports were the result of a combination of factors such as appreciating rupee, increased dumping by Chinese steel firms taking advantage of various export sops and on top of all, a "creeping depression" in the world market.
He also said costlier iron ore has put Indian steel firms at a "disadvantageous position" in export markets.
Coking coal and iron ore are key raw materials for making of steel. While Indian steel makers are largely dependent on imported coking coal, they enjoy the benefit of sourcing iron ore domestically.
However, though iron ore prices have recently plunged to 5-year low in the global market, domestic steel firms were ruing that it did not truly reflect in domestic market.
It generally takes 1.6 MT iron ore and 0.7 MT coking coal to produce one MT steel.