Globalization posses many challenges to the industry, which has predominantly developed in a protected environment. With World Trade Organization assuming an increasing role in global economics, there is an inevitable move towards an inter-linked international economy. However, there have been cases where particular segments of the industry, such as pharmaceuticals and biotechnology have performed exceedingly well even at the world level.
During 2005-06, the industry contributed 17.6% of the manufacturing sector. However the country continues to be a net importer in 2005-06, with exports of US$ 5.95 billion and imports of US$7.92 billion. The worth of Indian chemicals industry during 2005-06 was US$30.59 billion, which reflected a growth of 10.23% over the previous year and a CAGR of 8.68% during the last 3 years.
The chemical industry is one of the earliest domestic industries in India, contributing considerably to both the industrial as well as economic growth of the country since it achieved independence in 1947. The industry presently produces around 70,000 commercial products, which range from toiletries and cosmetics, to plastics and pesticides.
The wide and diverse range of products can be broken down into several categories, which include inorganic and organic (commodity) chemicals, plastics and petrochemicals, drugs and pharmaceuticals, dyes and pigments, pesticides and agrochemicals, fine and specialty chemicals, and fertilizers.
With primary focus on modernization, the Govt. of India has taken an active role in promoting the growth and development of Indian domestic chemical industry. The Department of Chemicals & Petro-Chemicals that has been part of the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers since 1991, is responsible for making policy making, planning, development, and regulation of the industry. In the private sector, several organizations, including the Indian Chemical Manufacturers Association, the Chemicals and Petrochemicals Manufacturers Association, and the Pesticides Manufacturers and Formulators Association of India, all work with the prime objective of promoting the growth of industry and the export of Indian chemicals. For example, the Indian Chemical Manufacturers Association, represents a large number of Indian companies, which produce and export a variety of chemicals, which have legitimate commercial applications, but also can be used as precursors and intermediates for production of chemical weapons.
Growing at an average rate of 12.5%, the Indian chemical industry offers a wide spectrum of opportunities for the investors both from India and the world. The significant market potential, coupled with the existing pool of human resources, and the comprehensive variety of resources in the country make it s profitable destination in the new millennium. In the world production of chemicals, Indian industry stands at 12th position. Major segments of Indian chemical industry include -
Pharmaceuticals & bulk drugs
In terms of volume and value, Indian pharmaceutical industry ranks 4th and 13th respectively. In 2004, industry was valued at over $6 billion, which is growing at an annual rate of 8 9 %. The industry can be divided into bulk drugs segment and formulations, and manufactures about 60,000 finished medicines and around 400 bulk drugs that are used in formulations.
One of the most dynamic pesticide producers in the world, India is the second largest manufacturer of agrochemicals in Asia. Out of 145 pesticides registered in the country, 85 of a technical grade are locally manufactured. The country has established itself as a global sourcing base for generic agrochemicals.
Petrochemicals and organic chemicals
The petrochemical sector that primarily comprises polymers, synthetic fibers, fiber intermediates and plastic processing is growing at at an annual rate of 14%. At the world level, India stands 9th in terms of polymer consumption and is expected to be the 3rd largest consumer of polymers after USA and China by 2010. To meet the growing domestic requirement, 9 global size ethylene crackers of 700 kt each would need to be set up by 20112012, over and above the present capacity of 2.4 million tons.
The Indian dye industry is valued at around US$ 3 billion, with exports of about US$ 1 billion. The per capita consumption is very low (50 gms) as compared to average global consumption (400gms). The industry is highly fragmented with 50 players in organized sector and 900 in unorganized sector. (400 gms). The industry has undergone tremendous over the years, starting as an intermediate manufacturing industry to a full fledged industry with huge export potential. At present, India's share of the dye output globally stands at 5%, with a manufacturing capacity of 1,50,000 tons per annum.
Specialty chemicals comprise fine chemicals and performance chemicals. The Indian fine chemical industry is in a growth phase with an estimated worth of US$ 700 million. The industry primarily caters to the pharmaceutical industry. The Indian specialty chemicals industry is valued at an approximated worth of US$ 3 billion.
Characterized by high degree of fragmentation even across high volume product areas, Indian inorganic chemicals industry account for less than 4.5 % of global market. The sector comprises of production of chemicals, such as sulphuric acid, phosphoric acid, titanium dioxide, carbon black and chloralkali industry, which forms a major part of inorganic sector.
A decade of economic reforms has resulted in major changes in the way the Indian chemical manufacturers work and operate. Individual enterprises have realized their strengths and weaknesses and are gearing up to face the new challenges. Success stories in dyes and agrochemicals have boosted the confidence of Indian manufacturers to take on global competition squarely. Some of the advantages of Indian chemical industry include -
- Due to its low cost infrastructure, the country has huge export
potential. According to a recent report, India's chemical exports have
the potential to rise US$ 300 billion by 2015. This defines an
investment of US$ 50 billion in chemical industry alone.
- The country has the capacity for high value addition being close to
Middle East. This is a cheap and ample source for petrochemical
- In some categories of chemicals, India does have the advantage for
exports (dyes, pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals) by establishing
strategic alliances with countries like Russia. With the expertise and
know-how available in the country, there is a tremendous export
potential in dyestuff and agrochemical market.
- Availability and abundance of raw materials for titanium dioxide and
agro-based products, such as castor oil provide an opportunity to yield
significant value addition. This, however, would require substituting
their exports in raw form by producing high value derivatives.
- The major challenges are pursuit for feedstock and knowledge management. The naphtha-based crackers that have been providing feedstock to the industry traditionally, have now been replaced by new gas-based crackers. Along with China, India pose a stiff competition to the Middle East due to the vibrant exports and huge unexplored reserves of oil and gas. The Govt. of India is acting as a facilitator by establishing LNG terminals and acquiring equity interests in overseas proven oil reserves. This will fuel the fast growth in chemical industry. The govt. is also engaged in the development and formulation of a National Policy on Pharmaceuticals and mega-industrial chemical estates.