Japan, Europe against India’s ‘safeguard’ probes on steel imports
The EU and Japan have criticised India for “frequent and frivolous” use of safeguard measures — imposition of higher duties to protect domestic industry against import surges — and have asked New Delhi to review its use of the tool.
The countries also questioned India’s recent safeguard investigation on certain steel products, in a recent meeting of the WTO’s Committee on Safeguards.
“The EU has alleged that many of the investigations have been initiated on weak grounds and asked India to review its use of safeguard measures,” an official who attended the meeting told Business Line.
Of the total 30 safeguard actions notified by countries at a recent meeting of the WTO’s Committee on Safeguards, India accounted for five, but later dropped two.
In 2014, too, safeguard investigations initiated by India were one of the highest at 14.
Japan, the EU and Russia expressed concerns about India’s safeguard investigation on seamless pipes, tubes and hollow profiles of iron or non-alloy steel, arguing that imports had not surged.
India, in its defence, said that while imports had decreased, they were still sufficiently high compared to the base year. A number of members, including the US and China, are affected by duties on steel products.
Safeguard duties, which are basically levies in addition to the existing import duties, can be imposed on items that witness a surge in imports, thereby hurting the domestic industry.
Easy to establish
India has been depending more on this measure to protect its domestic industry as it is easy to establish. Imposing anti-dumping duty, which is the other form of penal duty that the WTO allows, is more difficult as one has to prove that the imports are actually happening at prices lower than what is being charged in the seller’s home country.
“India is very careful that all conditions laid down by the WTO are met before safeguard duties are imposed. It abandons a lot of investigations when there is room for doubt,” a Commerce Ministry official said.
India announced at the meeting that it had terminated its safeguard investigation on cold rolled flat products of stainless steel. Japan welcomed the announcement but said it still has systemic concerns about India’s safeguard investigations.
The country also announced termination of its safeguard investigation on slabstock polyol, used in manufacture of pillows and mattresses. It is mostly imported from the US and Japan.
Govt focusing on developing multi-purpose berths at Major Ports, says Radhakrishnan
The government aims to develop multi-purpose berths to handle cargo at various Major Ports in the country, Mr Pon Radhakrishnan, Minister of State for Shipping, told Parliament recently. These projects will enhance the capacity of the Ports to handle a variety of cargoes, and meet the requirements of the trade. This will also help reduce the pre-berthing detention time and turnaround time of vessels, the Minister added.
The details of the multi-purpose berths being developed at Major Ports are shown in the accompanying table.
10 port projects awarded in FY 15
Mr Radhakrishnan also informed Parliament that the government awarded 10 port projects worth Rs 9,376.43 crore under public-private partnership (PPP) mode in 2014-15. These will add 95.11 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) to the cargo-handling capacity of Major Ports, he said.
In 2013-14, port projects worth Rs 13,208.83 crore were awarded under PPP mode for a capacity expansion of 137.65 mtpa, he disclosed.
“The broad contours of the port projects are formulated by the Major Port authorities, within which the selected PPP operator implements and operates the project,” he said in his statement.
Kandla Port capably handles large size vessel
Kandla Port achieved another landmark earlier this month when it handled the 64,654-GRT, 254-m LOA, 1,15,088.09 SDWT m.v. YU XIANG HAI, one of the largest vessels to call at the facility. Under the agency of GAC Shipping (India) Pvt. Ltd, the vessel was carrying 1,09,705 tonnes of imported non-coking steam coal in bulk for the consignee Shree Cement Ltd.
The stevedore/receiver and handling agent was Shiv Shipping Services.
The vessel arrived from Baltimore, US on May 3, 2015 at 1920 hours. After the requisite survey and Customs boarding formalities, due to the draught restrictions at Berth No. 9, it was decided to lighterage a quantity of 29,163 tonnes at anchorage. Accordingly, cargo discharging operations commenced at anchorage on May 4 at 0035 hours and was completed at 0730 hours on May 6.
This was one of the highest such volumes handled in the history of the Port. The vessel then berthed at No.9 with the balance quantity of 80,542 tonnes and berthing draught of 11.34 metres. Discharging operations recommenced at 1800 hours on May 6, and the entire quantity was completed at 1200 hours on May 9, 2015.
Mr V. Anantharaman and Mr Dharmesh Thacker, Directors of Shiv Shipping Services, and Mr Gopalankutty Nair, Branch Head of GAC Shipping (India) Pvt. Ltd, expressed their gratitude to Shree Cement for facilitating this handling and complimented the Kandla Port management for bringing such a large-size vessel to the Port.
They thanked Mr Ravi M. Parmar, IAS, Chairman of Kandla Port Trust, Mr Mukesh Balani, Traffic Manager, Capt. H. K. Sibal, Deputy Conservator (who initiated the dynamic step), Capt. T. Srinivas, Harbour Master, HODs, the Port Administration, officers, staff, Customs officials, and all other agencies for their support and cooperation.
This “tremendous achievement” will pave the way for bigger vessels calling for discharge at Kandla Port, emphasised a release.
This post was written by Atlantic Admin