As per Steel Ministry data, India's finished steel imports during the fiscal year 2009 fell around 19% to 5.7 million tonnes from 7 million tonnes in the previous fiscal year, hurt by slackening demand, a development that may weaken the industry's case for more tax barriers on cheap arrivals of the commodity.

Even as the Indian government levied an import duty of 5% on certain steel products last year, leading producers like Essar, JSW and Ispat have filed petition for the levy of anti-dumping duty on items originating from China, Ukraine and a few other countries.

A senior industry official reportedly, while advocating for more tax curbs on imports, said in volume terms the steel quantity shipped to India may have declined during this fiscal, but what is damaging the domestic industry is the low price at which steel is being imported.

Hot-rolled coil, a vital steel item used by industries, is being shipped for as low as $400 a tonne, compared to the peak of over $1,100 a tonne in June last year, he added.

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