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Safeguard duties are allowed by the World Trade Organization as a temporary measure to check damage to a country’s industry from cheaper import.  Section 8B of the Customs Tariff Act, 1975 empowers the Central Government to impose Safeguard Duty on goods which enter in increased quantities and cause or threaten to cause serious injury to domestic industry producing like or directly competitive goods. In September, the Indian government imposed 20 per cent provisional safeguard duty for 200 days on the import of hot-rolled flat products in coils of 600 mm width or more. And in December, the government imposed an anti-dumping duty ranging from 5-57 percent on cold-rolled flat products of stainless steel for a period of five years on geographies such as China, South Korea, European Union, the US, South Africa, Thailand and Taiwan. Earlier in August, the government had hiked import duty on base metals, including iron and steel, by 2.5%, in a move aimed at helping domestic players battle out cheap Chinese imports after the currency devaluation by China. India’s steel imports slipped by about 7% for the first time in the last eight months in November’15, thanks to these initiatives. However, experts opine that owing to their production volumes, China, Japan and Korea have reduced HRC prices by almost USD 100 a tonne to nullify the impact and imports are bound to rise further as Indian domestic steel prices have not fallen to global levels. Owing to production economics, it seems unlikely that the exporting nations, because of duties, will abstain from dumping their additional supplies. Imports to India may rather slow down a little if the premium of domestic over global offers narrows down further or domestic demand in these countries bounce back. The issue has captured views from Mr NC Mathur, President, ISSDA on circumvention of anti-dumping duty on flat products on Pg.16.

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