India, the world's third largest steel producer, was among the top 10 importers of the alloy last year, according to the latest data by the global industry body World Steel Association (WSA).
India imported 13.3 million tonnes (MT) of the metal in 2015 and was just a notch up from China, which imported 13.2 MT of steel during the same period.
According to the WSA data, European Union as a bloc imported 37.7 MT of steel last year, which was followed by the US (36.5 MT), Germany (24.8 MT), South Korea (21.7 MT), Italy (19.9 MT), Turkey (18.6 MT), Vietnam (16.3 MT), Thailand (14.6 MT), France (13.7 MT) and India (13.3 MT).
According to Indian government data, steel imports rose by 25.6 per cent to 11.71 MT during the 2015-16 financial year against 9.32 MT in the year-ago period. India was a net importer of the metal in the last fiscal.
WSA data also showed that India exported 7.6 MT of steel in 2015, which was just a fraction of what its neighbour China exported during the same period at 111.6 MT.
Admitting that Indian steel sector is going through stress for some time due to rising imports, Steel Minister Narendra Singh Tomar had earlier this month assured the Rajya Sabha that government will take all steps to promote and safeguard the industry.
"It has come to the notice of the government that imports from China, Japan and Korea have increased, which is creating trouble for domestic industry and also causing losses to it."
"Government has made efforts to check this by steps like imposing anti-dumping duty, safeguard duty on imported steel products and policy announcement on minimum import price (MIP). After these steps, the pressure on the steel industry is gradually coming down," he had told the Upper House.
On the brighter side, WSA forecasted that India's steel demand is expected to grow by 5.4 per cent to 83.8 MT in 2016 on the back of low oil prices and reform momentum.
"India's prospects are brightening due to low oil prices, the reform momentum and policies to increase infrastructure and manufacturing output. India's steel demand will increase by 5.4 per cent in both 2016 and 2017 reaching 88.3 MT in 2017," WSA had said last month.
On the outlook, it said economic environment facing steel industry continues to be challenging with China's slowdown impacting globally across a range of indicators contributing to volatility in financial markets, sluggish growth in global trade and low oil and other commodity prices.
The global steel market is suffering from insufficient investment expenditure and continued weakness in manufacturing sector, WSA said.