Indian tinplate businesses call on government to drop steel import restrictions

Canmakers in India have renewed pressure on the government as the Ministry of Finance considers whether to implement further restrictions on the import of tinplate and a series of anti-dumping measures.

The Metal Container Manufacturers’ Association (MCMA) said the plans approved by India’s Directorate General for Trade Remedies (DGTR) will restrict the availability of cheap tinplate. That would force many smaller general lines and food can manufacturers out of business and putting thousands of jobs at risk.

“This obviously will have a major impact on the import of tinplate and tin-free steel in India, as the imports will become unviable compared to domestic prices,” said Sanjay Bhatia, president of the Mumbai-based MCMA and managing director of Hindustan Tin Works.

“The MCMA, along with leading tinplate users and other associations protested against the proceedings,” said Bhatia, whose association has been fighting the restrictions for some time along with the Tinplate Users Association.

The DGTR has said it supports the limits because they would stop imports of under-priced tinplate. The treated metal dominates the INR54.2 billion ($755 million) Indian canmaking market and is responsible for three-fifths of all production, according to data from Madras Consultancy Group. 

Two of India’s biggest packaging steel suppliers, JSW Vallabh Tinplate and the Tata Steel-owned Tinplate Company of India, are championing the restrictions. The behemoths of Indian steel argue that the country is importing steel from places such as the US, Japan, and the European Union at below-market prices, protecting their own industries at India’s expense.

In June, the government placed five-year levies against a number of steel products, including tinplate, that either originate from, or are exported via China, Vietnam, and South Korea.