India's finished steel exports dropped 8 percent in February from the previous year, their first fall in eight months, according to government reports, as demand from conventional buyers in Europe and South East Asia collapsed due to coronavirus outbreaks.
India, the world's second-largest steel manufacturer, exported 570,000 tonnes of finished steel in February, compared to 619,000 tonnes a year earlier, according to government data reviewed. The fall in February has been the steepest since April, data have shown.
Arnab Kumar Hazra, assistant secretary-general at Indian Steel Association, an industry group that also represents major steel producers, said, "Demand has evaporated from all our importing nations."
India remains a net exporter in April-Feb with exports of 7.78 million tonnes, data shows. The country's main purchasers include Vietnam, Italy, Belgium and Spain.
India's local steel consumption also hit the ground in February and dropped to its lowest in four months, according to reports, signaling a worsening domestic economic slowdown. In February, India's finished steel production dropped to a two-month low of 8.56 million tonnes.
Jayant Acharya, director of commercial and marketing operations at JSW Steel Ltd, said, "After February, domestic demand has improved. The situation is still stable. But going forward, let us see how things pan out."
The coronavirus epidemic is expected to stifle larger economic growth in Asia's third-largest country, experts report claims. The economy was growing at its slowest rate in more than six years throughout October-December.
India closed Taj Mahal, its highest tourist destination, and the Mumbai financial hub directed offices offering non-essential facilities to work at 50 percent of staff levels as attempts to control the spread of coronavirus increased in South Asia.