Government Looks To Cut Down Imports Of Chemicals
An excavator loads sulfur into trucks near Vadinar, Gujarat. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Government Looks To Cut Down Imports Of Chemicals

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The government is planning to boost domestic production of chemicals and petrochemicals to cut down imports and make India a manufacturing hub for the sector, a top ministry official said on Wednesday.

Net imports of chemicals and petrochemicals touched a whopping Rs 1.21 lakh crore annually in 2018-19, the official added.

Addressing an event organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce, chemicals and petrochemicals secretary P Raghavendra Rao said there is a need to increase the capacity utilisation in this industry from the current level of 75-80 percent and cut unnecessary imports.

He expressed concerns over imports of chemicals and petrochemicals in the unknown ‘other’ categories and said the government is providing specific codes to regulate inward shipments.

“India should become a manufacturing hub of chemicals and petrochemicals. We are focusing on that,” he said.

The government wants that factories should come up in a cluster so that it could provide all infrastructure facilities at one place, the secretary said.

Rao pointed out that the country's net imports have risen to Rs 1.21 lakh crore in 2018-19 from Rs 1,000 crore in 2004-05 and there is a projection that this figure could touch Rs 3 lakh crore in the next five years.

He emphasised on the need for utilising the full manufacturing capacity of the industry for production of quality products.

The secretary said that the government's focus is on “strengthening the sector” which would lead to higher domestic production and reduction in unnecessary imports.

The ministry is also working towards attract investments in this sector.

To ensure quality, Rao said the ministry plans to make it mandatory some of the BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) standards for those chemicals which are used by masses.

Speaking on the sidelines, Dharmendra Kumar Madan, director in the department of chemicals and petrochemicals, said the current size of the industry is $164 billion and is growing at 6-7 percent annually.

Madan said the government has set a target of 9 percent growth for this sector and is making policy accordingly.

In a joint report, ICC and FutureStation Advisors said that total production of chemicals and petrochemicals stood at 478.82 lakh tonne during 2017-18. India is the sixth largest producer in the world.

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