Rise in copper import in recent times is a great concern for the government, says NITI Aayog member V K Saraswat. During a meeting, he said it is imperative that a better ecosystem is established to make domestic copper industry competitive.
Saraswat believes copper is a vital commodity and it is imperative that a better ecosystem is established in India for making it industry competitive. He underlined the importance of the reduction in customs duty on copper concentrates from 2.5% to nil, which was recommended by NITI Aayog in 2019. The issue of surge in copper imports with effect from 2018 which has placed India from being net exporter status to become a net importer post 2018 was also discussed.
According to the minutes of the meeting, Sterlite Copper informed that the Tuticorin plant was closed on account of law and order issue and requested the committee members that the government should find out some solution to restart the plant as early as possible. Member NITI Aayog informed that the matter is subjudice and as a result of which further discussion are not possible, the minutes said.
The International Copper Association had earlier said India’s copper import which increased 26% to 60,766 tonnes in the June quarter of 2021-22, is expected to rise further in the remaining part of the financial year, with economic activity witnessing a strong recovery from COVID-related restrictions.
It had said India’s copper imports may touch three lakh tonnes as economic growth picks up momentum despite adequate domestic capacity to meet the rising demand. India ended the last financial year with copper imports of 2,33,671 tonnes. With 26-30% growth, imports are likely to be in the range of 2,95,000 – 304,000 tonnes for the current financial year. Furthermore, as per the Ministry of Commerce, India earned a net foreign exchange of USD 1.1 billion on account of export of copper in 2017-18. However, after the shutdown of Sterlite Copper’s smelter plant, India now incurs a net foreign exchange outflow of USD 1.2 billion due to imports of copper every year.