New codes likely to take 1,200 steel items out of 'others' category

India imports nearly Rs 39,000-40,000 crore worth steel scrap annually.
In a bid to arrest the rise in steel imports in the ‘others’ category, the government is in the process of creating 1,200 new HSN (Harmonised System of Nomenclature) codes to be placed under Chapter 72, which lists base metals.

These new codes will accurately define and classify the imported product.

“Currently, around 60 per cent of imported steel products have no HSN code in Chapter 72. Because of this, it falls in other category and there is complete chaos in the industry with regard to the grade coming in the country. We have, therefore, clearly defined these products by creating new HSN codes,” a senior steel ministry official said.

For example, at present, there is HSN code for zinc-coated steel, as well as plastic-coated steel in Chapter 72. However, the imported product is zinc-plastic coated steel, which has no code in Chapter 72, and hence comes under the ‘others’ category. It is this kind of product that are getting new codes.

The steel ministry has been working on the new codes for the last couple of months and are expected to submit the proposal to the revenue department on Friday.

“This should be effective from April 1 after it is notified. After the addition of 1,200 new codes, total HSN codes for steel in Chapter 72 will go to 1,707,” the official said.

The thrust on creating new HSN code comes at a time when Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal has said that India is facing a “big” problem regarding imports under a category called “others” and in that category, all sorts of stuff are being imported.

Source: Joint Plant Committee

The minister revealed that of over $500 billion worth of imports in 2018-19, the ‘others’ category accounted for over $100 billion.

“Also in the steel scrap category, nearly 98 per cent of imported steel scrap comes under the ‘others category’. This is creating a huge confusion in the market as one is not able to figure out whether the scrap is from defence, shipbreaking stainless steel, auto or any other sector,” informed the official.

India imports nearly Rs 39,000-40,000 crore worth steel scrap annually.

“Defining every product with granularity will not just help categorise imports but also help domestic players identify the demand-supply of a particular product and create new grades in the domestic market, in turn, reducing reliance on imports,” explained the official.

Domestic steel industry comprises large primary steel producers, such as Tata Steel, Jindal Steel & Power, and state-owned Steel Authority of India (SAIL), among others.

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