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    China proposes long-term iron ore agreement with India

    Beijing (PTI): China has proposed a long-term agreement with India for importing iron ore to meet its growing demand of the mineral.

    "They proposed a long term agreement. We have not responded to it," India's Steel Ministry Secretary J S Sarma told reporters here.

    China made the proposal during a meeting between officials from India's Steel Ministry and the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.

    Sarma said the Chinese officials informed that Beijing had long-term arrangements with Australia and Brazil, with prices not being fixed, and wants to enter into a similar agreement with India.

    The meeting was also attended by officials of China's top economic planner National Development and Reforms Commission and Sinosteel, largest steel trading company in that country.

    Sarma said India had significant reserves, but it wants to preserve as much as possible. Steel maker in India have been, for long, demanding reduction in iron ore exports to ensure a secured supply of the mineral.

    After Brazil and Australia, India is the third largest supplier of iron ore to China, the world's largest iron ore consumer. India exports 93 million tons of iron ore annually, 85 per cent it to China.

    Sarma said the steel ministry had proposed to the Finance Ministry a 25 per cent duty on exports of iron ore.

    According to reports, while the Finance Ministry is supporting a hike in export duty, the Commerce Ministry is not in favour of the proposal apparently keeping the export obligations in mind. The Mining Ministry is also against it to sustain the doemstic mining industry.
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