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‘Iran steel entering India after paper-swap in UAE’.

Date: 23-05-2019
Subject: ‘Iran steel entering India after paper-swap in UAE’
Mumbai: Some Indian steel  importers are allegedly importing steel from Iran in collusion with shipping agents in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), circumventing the US sanctions that are in place since mid-2018. 

In March this year, about 65,000 tonnes of steel, mostly hot rolled coil, entered India after the import papers were altered in the UAE, a top executive with a large steel manufacturer said.

On the face of it, these papers looked genuine but a close scrutiny revealed that the origin of the consignments was Iran, which is under US-led trade sanctions due to its efforts to obtain nuclear capability. According to industry sources, the sudden start in exporting of steel by the UAE, a net steel importer for years, without any additional manufacturing, was also surprising.

The Indian Steel Association (ISA), which represents the country’s steel producers, has taken up this issue of circumvention of the US sanctions with the steel ministry, external affairs ministry, commerce ministry and the Indian Banks Association (IBA). According to letters written by ISA, imports from Iran are at a price which are putting Indian steel producers at a severe disadvantage.

Consignments even came at a price of around $450 per tonne, which after import duty and other charges, would translate to a landed cost of about $512 per tonne (about Rs 36,350). Compared to this, imports from China in March 2019 were at about $586 per tonne, translating to an import value of approximately Rs 41,600. This shows that steel imports from Iran were at a discount of about Rs 5,250 per tonne, the letter to the steel ministry pointed out.

ISA wants all steel imports from Iran to stop immediately, arguing that this trade is a grave violation of the US sanctions, which can impose retaliatory measures against India. “The government should put in place effective trade barriers to stop such unfair trades,” ISA assistant secretary general Arnab Kumar Hazra. 

In addition, customs officials should be alerted to check the country of origin and other details in the bill of entry. This could also help to restrict imports from Iran. ISA has also alerted the customs department, he said.

In its letter to the IBA last month, ISA requested the bankers’ body to bring these issues to the notice of all banks and said all the Indian banks running US dollar books, “should be alerted to transactions of this nature, irrespective of the currency of transaction”.

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

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