In order to weed out unregulated imports of sub-standard chemicals into India, the Modi government is working on introducing standards for chemical products.
“We do not have very good standards right now in case of many chemicals. The more better standards we set for consumer products, the more demand for better chemicals will be there; chemicals which are less harmful; chemicals which are more amiable to environmental sustainability. So in our ministry we have set up a committee with the joint secretary who will to start this work of setting standards in chemicals. We do not have a standards cell and we have had a discussion with BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards),” said Rajeev Kapoor, secretary, Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals while speaking at the inaugural of “India Chem Gujarat 2017”, Thursday.
“Having set the standards in products, we also need to examine to what extent we can make it mandatory, to ensure that our country is not suffering from sub-standard imports. So both the issues were discussed yesterday and will be taken forward,” he said referring to FICCI CEO forum where this issue was discussed on Wednesday.
A report unveiled at the event held at Mahatma Mandir also bats for establishing product standards for the chemical industry. “Establishing product standards is of paramount importance. Availability of low quality and low performance products will eventually lead to health risks, customer dissatisfaction, negative industry image and will finally impact growth of the value chain,” states the report titled “Chemical Industry with focus to Gujarat and Speciality Chemicals” prepared by Tata Strategic Management Group.
Setting of standards is one of the several steps suggested in the report that will help Indian chemical industry attain a size of USD 346 billion by the year 2025. Currently (in 2016), the industry is estimated to be valued at USD 155 billion and contributes 3.4 percent to the global chemical industry. India ranks 14th in exports and 8th in imports of chemicals (excluding pharmaceutical products) globally. India’s chemical trade balance is negative with imports being significantly higher than the exports.
“A number of products which are either banner or regulated in western markets are still used in India. Standards which do not meet global norms will lead to lower quality products at higher prices for high-tech goods in India,” states the report that was unveiled by Union Minister for Chemical and Fertilizers Ananth Kumar and Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani.
The report suggests implementation of “consumer standard” in segments like polymer additives, personal care, water treatment, flavours and fragrances, textile chemicals, colorants, construction chemicals and others. “The government should set standards and regulation across the segments to promote quality consciousness, sustainable development and efficiency improvements… Often, the domestic industry is at a severe disadvantage due to unregulated imports of sub-standard products which find a safe evacuation to India,” the report added.
It also lists out several challenges that is currently hindering the growth of the sector. “Lack of adequate physical infrastructure and sub-par chemical logistics infrastructure makes material production and movement cost intensive. Uninterrupted power supply remains a challenge for the energy intensive chemical industry. Significant glut in global chemical capacities has led to growth of imports in India. The duty structure needs rationalisation for several products in the value chain,” the report states.