Steel coils. Picture: BLOOMBERG
Steel coils. Picture: BLOOMBERG

India’s largest maker of stainless steel, Jindal Stainless (Hisar), warned on Tuesday that New Delhi’s decision to sign a new trade deal with China could lead to a surge in cheaper imports and hurt domestic producers.

Delhi-based Jindal Stainless, whose quarterly profit dropped for the first time in more than a year, said the inclusion of flat stainless-steel products in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) would force some small Indian steel companies to close.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will take part in the latest talks on RCEP, touted as a free-trade deal that will encompass more than a third of the world’s GDP.

The pact involves 16 countries, including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea, but not the US.

“India will become a dumping ground for all goods through this open-door policy approach by the government,” Jindal Stainless said in a statement.

India is already staring at higher stainless-steel imports in 2018, with overseas purchases at 453,693-million tons in the first five months of fiscal 2018/19, 94%  of total purchases in the previous year.

Earlier in 2018, India launched an investigation into subsidised production and exports of welded stainless-steel pipes and tubes from China and Vietnam.