India's JSW Steel expects exports to hit over 5-year low

FILE PHOTO: The logo of JSW is seen on the company's headquarters in Mumbai

By Neha Arora

NEW DELHI (Reuters) -India's JSW Steel Ltd expects its exports to fall to a more than five-year low at 10% of overall sales in the fiscal year to March 2023 because of reduced global demand and an export tax, a company executive said on Thursday.

India's largest steelmaker by capacity expects to sell 24 million tonnes of steel in the year 2022/23, Seshagiri Rao M.V.S., joint managing director and group chief financial officer, told Reuters in an interview.

"The global economy is slowing down. Adding to that, there is an export duty, which has come in. Both together, I think, has made the country lose that competitive advantage," Rao said.

"We can't completely get out of the export market ... because these customers are developed painstakingly over a period of time."

Finished steel exports from the world's second-biggest crude steel producer more than halved during the first seven months of the fiscal year that began in April, partly because of a 15% export tax on some steel intermediates that the federal government levied in May.

JSW Steel aims to produce 25 million tonnes of crude steel this year, up 28% from last year.

RECORD RUSSIAN COKING COAL IMPORTS

Rao said Indian steelmakers were buying Russian steel that was being diverted following sanctions imposed by the West in response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.

"Some six-seven shipments have come in this financial year since April," Rao said, adding, those were distressed cargoes.

Indian steelmakers also bought a record amount of Russian coking coal - estimated to be around a record 5-6 million tonnes in 2022/23 from less than 2 million tonnes last year, he said, adding coking coal prices were too high.

"There is a change only in the routing of trade...The demand-supply scenario does not justify a price of $300 per tonne plus."

Imports make up around 85% of India's coking coal needs, which total 50-55 million tonnes a year. New Delhi last year signed a deal to double its Russian imports to around 9 million tonnes this year.

(Reporting by Neha Arora; Editing by Mayank Bhardwaj, Rashmi Aich and Barbara Lewis)