China was the top exporter of finished steel to India in the first six months of the fiscal year that began in April, according to provisional Indian government data seen by Reuters on Thursday.

During the April-September period, China shipped 0.9 million metric tons, up 55% from a year earlier.

China, the world's top steel producer, exported mostly cold- rolled coil or sheets to India, followed by hot-rolled coil products, plates, and pipes, among others.

The Indian steel industry has sought government intervention through safeguards against Chinese imports.

During April-September, India imported 2.9 million tons of finished steel, up 13.4% from a year earlier.

South Korea was the second-biggest exporter to India, shipping 0.9 million tons.

However, India remained a net exporter of finished steel during April-September, with 3.2 million tons sold to buyers such as Italy, Spain, Belgium, Nepal and the UAE, the Indian government data showed.

Hot-rolled coil and strips were the most exported products, the data showed.

India's crude steel output stood at 70 million tons, up 14.7% from the same period last year. India is the world's second-biggest crude steel producer.

Domestic consumption of finished steel was 64.1 million tons, up 14.9% on the year.

The government noted in its report that the domestic economic environment remained upbeat.

This week, JSW Steel Ltd chief executive said the company would continue to focus on sales in the domestic market because of strong demand. (Reporting by Neha Arora; editing by Robert Birsel)