India's crude steel production fell 23 per cent to 7.38 million tonne (MT) in March as compared to the previous month, while export and import also took a beating due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown, according to an official statement.
The spread of coronavirus also impacted the country's consumption of steel which fell 6.6 per cent month-on-month to 0.580 MT in March, the steel ministry said in an update on the sector.
"While the month of March 2020 witnessed the onset of COVID-19 and the lockdown in the latter half, overall it witnessed a bleak situation for steel sector as a whole.
The crude steel production at 7.38 MT observed a huge decline of 22.7 per cent in March 2020 as against 9.56 MT during February 2020, while export-import fell drastically and even consumption reduced by 6.6 per cent," it said.
The finished steel export declined 20.5 per cent to 0.453 MT from 0.570 MT in February. Import fell 26.9 per cent to 0.293 MT from 0.401 MT in the previous month, it said.
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In 2019-20, crude steel output also registered a fall at 108.500 MT, down 2.2 per cent from 110.921 MT in 2018-19.
For the major part of financial year 2019-20, the ministry said, India's economic growth was subdued due to the slowdown in sectors like capital goods, consumer durables, infrastructure and construction sectors, which are primarily steel intensive sectors.
This adversely affected the steel demand and consequently the demand and prices witnessed a steady decline and reached at bottom in September 2019. The market demand started an upward trend from mid of November 2019, after the end of monsoon and festive season.
"The market did exhibit steady demand in the following two months. The onset of COVID-19 pandemic however, severely affected the steel industry in India by impacting its labour force and supply chain, both domestically and globally.
"The major impact of COVID-19 on steel industry was evident from the second fortnight of March 2020. On the whole, during FY 20, performance of steel industry was a combination of overall muted demand from steel intensive sectors, especially, from construction and automobile sector, global trade actions, extended monsoon, currency depreciation in major steel exporting countries, fall in steel prices globally and impact of COVID-19," it said.Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.