By Neha Arora
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's imports of Russian steel rose to an eight-year high during the first 10 months of the financial year that began in April 2022, government data compiled by Reuters showed.
India, the world's second-largest crude steel producer, imported 281,000 tonnes of steel from Russia between April and January, nearly five times higher than the same period a year ago, the data showed.
The rising imports are the result of shift in Russian steel trade flows to Asia after Western sanctions were imposed on Russia after its invasion of Ukraine last year. The change is displacing some traditional suppliers and domestic steel producers are raising concerns about potentially losing market share to the lower priced imports.
Moscow was the fourth-biggest steel supplier to India during the April to January period, emerging as one of the top five steel exporters to the country for the first time since the 2016/17 fiscal year, the data showed.
Between April and January, about 72% of Moscow's steel shipments to India constituted hot-rolled coil (HRC) and strips.
Russia displaced Japan as the second-biggest supplier of HRC to India for the first time in at least eight years, the data showed.
Russian suppliers sold some of their HRC to Indian buyers at around 46,000 Indian rupees ($555.86) a tonne, at least 21% cheaper than domestic prices, said a government official with direct knowledge of the matter.
Indian steel companies have expressed concerns over cheaper Russian steel imports.
"The surge in volume and low price point is a matter of concern and needs to be contained," said Jayant Acharya, deputy managing director at JSW Steel Ltd.
India remained a net exporter of steel during the first 10 months of the 2022/23 fiscal year, the data showed, despite finished steel exports more than halving during the period because of sluggish global demand.
Russia continues to be a steady buyer of Indian stainless steel, with expectations those volumes will rise.
Jindal Stainless Ltd, India's biggest stainless steel manufacturer, said it expects its exports to reach a five-year high in the next fiscal year, buoyed by increased shipments to Russia and the start of exports to South America and the Middle East.
($1 = 82.7540 Indian rupees)
(Reporting by Neha Arora; Editing by Mayank Bhardwaj and Christian Schmollinger)