What a ‘Steel’: India and its Steel Sector
The modern world without steel would barely be functional. As a versatile commodity, steel is weldable and has resistance to corrosion and high temperatures. Steel also has the exceptional quality of high machinability with how easy it is to convert it into the desired form. It can be said that capital-intensive economies that went on to become developed have been foundational in steel production. It supports the entire automobile, construction, and transportation industry as well as the building of machinery. The applications are endless and are seen in our daily lives - from utensils, and machinery to electricity power lines, pipelines, military use, etc. To add to its wonders, this alloy of iron and carbon is environmentally friendly as it can be recycled easily!
Steel production is an important facet of economic development. The demand and supply of steel are a reflection of the global economic situation. The past two years have been full of challenges for the world to take on. The pandemic halted production and disrupted supply chains across the world. Inflationary pressure in the economy proved to be another challenge. This invariably affected the demand-supply narrative of steel production resulting in a slower growth process. The global demand for steel hit in February 2022, when the Russia-Ukraine war took momentum. In terms of the global economy, the impact was severe. Higher energy demands and lower supply of raw materials result in higher prices of commodities. As for India, the effect was seen and was fortunately stabilized. Due to the ongoing war and its unpredictable situation, for the steel sector to recover we need to focus on rerouting trade flows and becoming self-reliant.
Self-reliance is an important attribute of becoming a strong economy. Thus, self-reliance in steel production is an important goal that India has to achieve. India saw an increase in share in crude steel production from 4.8 per cent in 2011, to 6.1 per cent in 2022. The aim is to satisfy domestic demand for steel, export the surplus, and become a global supplier. Aiming to become self-reliant and an exporter by increasing quality products should be integrated with sustainable business practices to add to the overall sustainable economic growth of the country.
The steel sector in India is given ample incentive and motivation from the government. The Production Linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for Specialty Steel is one such initiative. This scheme provides eligible stakeholders in the steel industry on the production side to avail monetary incentives over a five-year period from 2023-24 to 2027-28. This promotes the companies to take a step further and provides them support to build technology that is on par with the European technology that is imported for steel production. The target sector chosen by the government is speciality steel which is value-added steel that is further worked on by multiple processes like heat treatment and coating. India relies heavily on the import of speciality steel; hence the scheme will push to fulfill the local demand for steel via domestic players. The scheme is based on incentive slabs and has an outlay of INR 6322 crores through the defined years. Higher incentive slabs have been proposed for steel grades that are not prominently produced in India and are imported. The five categories of specialty steel that have been chosen in the PLI Scheme are:
● Coated/Plated Steel Products
● High Strength/Wear-resistant Steel
● Specialty Rails
● Alloy Steel Products and Steel wires
● Electrical Steel
As reported by the Press Information Bureau (PIB), it is expected that the speciality steel production will become 42 million tonnes by the end of 2026-27. This will also bring in many employment opportunities and facilitate entrepreneurship within the steel sector. It is through this that Indian steel companies can have access to funding to develop homegrown technology that ensures higher quality steel grades. Quality and quantity are the factors that would be held in mind as the scheme takes momentum. In a few years, as the scheme would flourish every stakeholder in the steel industry will have one thought in mind - what a steel deal!
- 1. Union Cabinet approves Production-linked Incentive (PLI) Scheme for Specialty Steel; Incentives worth ₹6322 crores to be provided over five years for manufacturing of these products in India,.” 22 July 2021. Press Information Bureau. https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1737722.
- 2. “Worldsteel Short Range Outlook April 2022 - worldsteel.org.” 2022. World Steel Association. https://worldsteel.org/media-centre/press-releases/2022/worldsteel-short-range-outlook-april-2022/.
- 3. “World Steel in Figures 2022 - worldsteel.org.” n.d. World Steel Association. Accessed August 1, 2022. https://worldsteel.org/steel-topics/statistics/world-steel-in-figures-2022/.
- 4. Chawla, Achal. “How PLI scheme for specialty steel can attract investment for this sector.” 10 May 2022. The Economic Times. https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/small-biz/sme-sector/how-pli-scheme-for-specialty-steel-can-attract-investment-for-this-sector/articleshow/91460759.cms.
- 5. “Production Linked Incentive Scheme (PLI) for Specialty Steel in India.” 2021. The Gazette of India. https://steel.gov.in/sites/default/files/PLI%20scheme%20document%20notification.pdf.