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India In-Focus — Minister asks Tesla not to import cars from China; India’s Petcoke imports to double

MUMBAI: US electric vehicle maker Tesla Inc. is welcome to set up shop in India, make cars here for sale and export them, but must not import cars from China, the transport minister said on Tuesday.

“Making in China and selling here is not a good proposition,” the minister, Nitin Gadkari, said during a government conference.

Tesla is desperate to import and sell its electric vehicles in India, having lobbied officials in New Delhi for nearly a year to cut tariffs, which the company’s billionaire chief executive Elon Musk says are among the highest in the world.

But its efforts are at a stalemate as Tesla has not revealed a firm plan to invest in India, a step that would be in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” vision to boost local manufacturing and create jobs. 

Russia and India in talks to restart coking coal supplies

Russian and Indian officials met last week in an effort to resolve an impasse over the shipping of coking coal to Indian steelmakers that has dried up since March over payment methods, a trade source and an Indian government source said.

Russia usually supplies about 30 percent of EU, Japanese and South Korean coking coal needs, while India had planned to double its Russian imports to around 9 million tons this year. 

Imports make up around 85 percent of India’s overall coking coal needs, which total 50-55 million tons a year, and New Delhi last year signed a deal to import from Russia.

But complications with the processing of payments and logistics as a result of sanctions against Russia mean steel mills are opting for alternative sources such as Australia and the US, pushing up prices in the process.

Australia, India’s top supplier of coking coal, has raised its prices from $200 to $700 per ton this year, while flows from Russia have dried up completely since March, the two sources said on Monday, raising worries among India’s steelmakers over their supplies.

As a result, Indian government officials and executives from JSW Steel met a delegation from Russia in New Delhi on Friday, the sources said of the previously unreported meeting.

Russian trade officials expressed concerns during the meeting over the sanctions imposed by the West and asked India to move forward with last year’s deal, the sources said.

The Russian delegation asked Indian representatives to visit Moscow to work out how to achieve smooth shipments of coking coal, the sources said, while the state-owned Steel Authority of India requested better insurance cover for supplies.

India’s petcoke imports to double

India’s imports of petroleum coke, or petcoke, are expected to more than double this year, industry officials say, as competitive prices are driving cement makers to switch to the fuel as an alternative to coal.

A ton of petcoke, a refinery byproduct, is more expensive than coal but produces more energy when burnt. It is generally not used as fuel because of toxic emissions, but is widely used by the cement industry — its largest consumer, as sulfur dioxide emissions are absorbed by limestone.

Global coal prices are near record highs due to fears of a supply crunch following the European Commission’s decision to ban coal imports from Russia after its invasion of Ukraine.

Imports of petcoke are expected to more than double in 2022, a coal trader and two executives at large Indian cement manufacturing companies told Reuters.

(With inputs from Reuters)