Indian Aluminium Firms Renew Call for Tariffs After Action on Imported Steel

Indian Aluminium Firms Renew Call for Tariffs After Action on Imported Steel
North Block, Secretariat Building, New Delhi. Source: Wikimedia

India’s aluminium manufacturers continue to lobby their government for protection against low-price imports this week. Representatives from domestic aluminium firms are asking government officials to establish a minimum import price to help stave off what the firms consider dumping from several countries, not the least of which is the People’s Republic of China.

“The government is re-examining the provisions of imposing either a safeguard or an anti-dumping duty on various grades of aluminium,” Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told local media on Monday.

Safeguard duties are allowed under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. The Finance Ministry has already turned down safeguard duties on imported aluminium.

Leaders of Vedanta and Hindalco have both met with Sitharaman over the past few weeks to attempt to change her mind on such duties against countries like the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Russia, South Africa, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, and Thailand.

“They have sought government support by means of anti-dumping duty or safeguard duty,” Sitharaman said. “I have asked them to give me substantial data so that I can understand the matter and take it further.”

Vedanta group chairman Anil Agarwal and Aditya Birla Group chairman KM Birla have both lobbied hard for immediate action on a protective duty on wrought aluminium.

“China and West Asia are dumping aluminium – China as its industry is heavily subsidised and West Asia as power is very cheap there. Electricity accounts for almost 40% of the total production cost. For an industry that employs 750,000 people, it is time that the government created some barriers that will ensure the protection of this large employee base. We are unable to sell it locally due to the dumping,” said Hindalco MD Debu Bhattacharya.

India’s Directorate General of Safeguards recommended a 5% provisional safeguard duty on unwrought aluminium on April 21. But, upon review by the Board of Safeguards, the board decided against the duty one week later.