India has witnessed a significant surge in Flat Steel imports (Hot Rolled Coils (HRC) and Plates), reaching the highest levels in the past three years. This spike, observed in the first ten months of 2023, has surpassed the overall imports recorded in 2022.
The driving force behind this surge has been the continuous increase in imports from Free Trade Agreement Nations. On the other hand, a few Chinese suppliers grapple with challenges due to the non-renewal of Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) certification for many companies.
Imports from FTA nations have played a pivotal role in the remarkable growth of Flat Steel (HRC/Plate) imports in India. South Korea, Vietnam, and Japan have been the key contributors, collectively accounting for approximately 80% of India’s Flat Steel imports from January to October 2023.
From January 2023 to October 2023, India imported a staggering 2.08 million tons of Flat Steel, reflecting a remarkable 28% increase compared to the total imports for the entire year of 2022, which stood at approximately 1.63 million tons. This substantial year-on-year growth highlights the robust demand for Flat Steel in the Indian market.
Apart from the annual surge, the monthly imports also witnessed a sharp increase of about 68% in October 2023, reaching approximately 0.33 million tons. This significant jump from 0.20 million tons in September 2023 can be attributed to a notable price decline of $60-70/ton in the international market from July 2023 to September 2023. This decline incentivized Indian importers, resulting in healthier orders and a subsequent spike in October 2023 imports.
As imports from FTA countries continue to rise, there are expectations that the annual imports for 2023 will surpass the previous highest levels recorded in 2019 at 2.3 million tons. Hence, the global market’s sluggish trends are anticipated to exert pressure on the Indian domestic Flat Steel market in terms of price movements.
The uncertainty in market trends for Flat Steel is likely to persist in the coming weeks, reflecting the delicate balance between international market dynamics and domestic demand.
India’s Flat Steel sector is navigating a complex landscape marked by surging imports, with FTA nations spearheading the charge. While this trend signifies a robust demand for Flat Steel in India, challenges in the global market pose uncertainties for the industry’s future trajectory.