Mould new policy for cheaper steel to SMEs, EEPC tells govt
AFTER the sharp escalation in steel prices over the past year, Engineering Export Promotion Council (EEPC) has urged the Centre to evolve a special policy for supply of steel at competitive rates to small and medium producers and exporters of engineering goods. In this light, EEPC chairman Rakesh Shah noted that engineering goods exporters were hit hard by a 13% rise in the rupee value. Matters were further compounded in the aftermath of a 20% rise in prices of different categories of steel products, which are primary raw materials of engineering goods. During April 2007-February 2008, steel prices on an average increased 20%, which is perhaps the highest compared to China, EU, the US, east Asia, Latin America and CIS countries, he claimed. Credit cost is another factor that seems to be out of line with international trends. Globally, banks are reducing interest rates while it remains static in India. Hit by three adversaries — rupee appreciation, spiralling raw material prices and static interest rates — engineering goods exports from the country have just posted a 2.5% growth in rupee terms in December 2007, Mr Shah said. He was speaking at an awards ceremony on Thursday. While delivering its role as a facilitator, EEPC intends to help setting up an industrial cluster for bell metal products at one of the places in Bankura which is famous as a production hub for such products. Currently, it has joined hands with concerned stakeholders for setting up a foundry park in Howrah. German consul general Guenter Wehrman said Germany has been one of the leading destinations for Indian engineering goods. India’s exports to Germany grew 30% to $900 million in 2006-07. One of the reasons attributed to the growth is Indian companies’ continuous participation in all important trade fairs in Germany, particularly the trade fairs being held at Hannover.