Finished steel exports in FY21 stood at 11.65 mn tonnes and semi-finished at 7.25 mn tonnes, up 31% and 153%, respectively, over previous year
Steel exports touched a record high in FY21, saving the day for companies, as domestic consumption dragged due to Covid-related disruptions in the first half of the year.
Data compiled by Joint Plant Committee (JPC) shows that finished steel exports between April-March 2020-2021 (provisional) stood at 10.785 million tonnes, an increase of 29.1 per cent; exports of semi-finished steel during the period were at 6.6 million tonnes, an increase of 133 per cent.
JPC officials said that the data showed that this was an all-time high. The previous high was in 2017-18 at 11.614 million tonnes.
SteelMint data pegged finished steel exports in FY21 at 11.65 million tonnes and semi-finished at 7.25 million tonnes, an increase of 31 per cent and 153 per cent over the previous year. SteelMint said that exports in FY21 was an all-time high.
Industry sources said that the previous high was in 2017-18 at 11.614 million tonnes.
Jayant Acharya, director – commercial & marketing, JSW Steel, said, exports of 17-plus million tonne in FY21 is the highest. “Of this, about 11 million tonne was in the first half. China was importing large quantities during this period,” he explained.
Sushim Banerjee, former director general, Institute for Steel Development & Growth (INSDAG), too, said that this was a record for exports.
In the first half of the year, when India imposed a nationwide lockdown to contain Covid-19, companies resorted to exports.
Jindal Steel & Power (JSPL) managing director, V R Sharma, said that the company had recorded its highest exports. Exports accounted for 35 per cent of sales in FY21 for the company compared to 13 per cent in the prior year. However, it now stands at 25 per cent of sales, pointed out Sharma.
Explaining the backdrop, Acharya, said, “In H1, domestic consumption was down by 28 per cent due to strict Covid related restrictions and lockdown. Exports was the main outlet in H1. With gradual opening up, domestic business started picking up from July/August ‘20 and consumption improved in Q3 ‘21 and Q4 ‘21. In H2, consumption was up by 15-16 per cent,” he added.
Overall, the year ended with a drop in consumption of 6.7 per cent and production to the tune of 7.8 per cent. However, it was still better than the projections made in April last year for FY21 as demand picked up over Q3 and Q4.
“The intensity with which the recovery happened surprised everyone. Demand was led by automotive, appliances, and followed by renewable energy. Infrastructure and construction, Roads and highways, yellow goods, followed next,” said Acharya.
However, even as domestic demand has picked up, exports are expected to be robust on the back of higher realisations.
“Export realisations are now higher than domestic as prices in China, Europe and US have surged,” said Acharya.
A Crisil report said that while exports of finished steel in the first quarter of fiscal 2021 were driven by lackluster domestic demand, the surge in the last quarter was led by higher export realisation.
Crisil expects the momentum to continue and push finished steel exports another 12-16 per cent higher this fiscal.
However, the dampener for the industry could be rising Covid cases. Acharya said, “As of now, production was not impacted, but we are watching the situation.”
He added, stricter implementation of Covid appropriate norms and localised restrictions to contain the spread of the infection was required rather than a lockdown.