Canmakers under threat as India is urged to ban cheap tinplate imports

A long-running packaging steel dispute in India is likely to worsen for domestic canmakers after a government body recommended adoption of restrictions on some cheap imports.

The nation’s Directorate General for Trade Remedies (DGTR) has said a proposed anti-dumping measure to prevent imports of under-priced tinplate should go ahead. The move would limit the availability of cheap tinplate for many smaller general line and food can manufacturers.

The DGTR took up the case after two of India’s biggest packaging steel suppliers, JSW Vallabh Tinplate and the Tata Steel-owned Tinplate Company of India, lodged a complaint with the government. They argued that much of the steel imported to India had been sold at less than market price to protect industries in the US, Japan and the European Union.

In an investigation, the DGTR found that steel imports of flat-rolled tinplate or ECCS from those three sources had last year risen 13 per cent over the 2016 fiscal year, while domestic sales had increased by less than half that. At the same time, the amount of domestic tinplate processing capacity that was utilised in 2019 rose 31 per cent and sales increased fourfold.

The DGTR concluded that cheap imports had been dumped in India to the detriment of local steel producers.

The recommendation, while helpful to the domestic tinplate suppliers, is unlikely to be welcomed by India’s canmakers. The Metal Container Manufacturers’ Association last year said it would oppose the move because it would put thousands of companies at risk.

Combined with a separate government plan to apply strict quality assurance regulations on tinplate production, tens of thousands of jobs could be lost, according to the association.