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Can India Become a Global Steel Manufacturing Hub?

qst steel manufacturers in Kolkata
Stephen/

The present government has set a target of making India a $5 trillion economy by 2024-25. For that to happen, it’s essential that the domestic steel industry booms – and booms in a big way at that. But then could that happen? After a not-so-great 2019, can the industry make a jump and fly high this year and beyond? Can India become a global steel manufacturing hub?

The opinions, of course, are split.

India is the second largest steel producer in the world, touting a 106.5 MT crude steel production capacity. (China is at the top on this list with production capacity of 928.3 MT of crude steel.) With per capital steel consumption at 74 KGs, India is also the third largest steel consumer in the world. China and the USA are at the first and second spot respectively.

The Indian government is aiming to achieve the target of 300 million tonnes steel products by 2030-31. To make that happen, we have National Steel Policy (NSP) 2017 in place, which lays down the plan for India’s steel sector for a sustainable growth.

The ambition is big and ambitious. However, there are several roadblocks on the way that are difficult to counter. For instance, owing to slowed demand and various other factors, India’s domestic steel production declined last year in October by 3.4 percent, which is the steepest drop in nearly four years. In addition, the country also saw a fall in total steel export by 34 percent in 2018-19.

So, there are challenges in India’s ambitions of becoming a global manufacturing hub of steel. However, budget 2020 did bring a room to breathe for all the TMT manufacturers in West Bengal and other steel players in the market. Government’s efforts to push infrastructural investment have been lauded by many experts.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman made a host of announcements in this Union Budget 2020 to accelerate the development of highways, airports, railways and various other projects. Collectively, this could cascade to bring a load of happy news for the steel industry. But, of course, announcements are just a small part of the game. All eyes of TMT bar suppliers in Kolkata and other players across the country are on execution.

So, can India become a global steel manufacturing hub? It has the potential; it has adequate policies. But will it turn its ambitions into reality? We’ll have to wait and see.

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