Stain­less steel play­ers pin hopes on 'Smart Cities' for a con­sump­tion boost

The Hindu Business Line - - NEWS -

Stain­less steel play­ers have pinned their hopes on ur­ban con­sump­tion and cen­tral in­fra­struc­ture ini­tia­tives such as ‘Smart Cities’, to boost the coun­try's con­sump­tion lev­els.

The in­dus­try, which has a com­bined in­stalled ca­pac­ity of about five mil­lion tonnes, is faced with the chal­lenges of dump­ing by neigh­bour­ing coun­tries. This poses a threat to the eco­nomic vi­a­bil­ity of op­er­a­tions and sus­te­nance of the units, which are cur­rently op­er­at­ing at an av­er­age 60-65 per cent ca­pac­ity. On the side­lines of an aware­ness pro­gramme in Ahmedabad on Fri­day, K K Pahuja, Pres­i­dent, In­dian Stain­less Steel De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion (ISSDA), stated that In­dia's per capita stain­less steel con­sump­tion stands at a mea­gre 2.2 kg, com­pared to the global av­er­age of 6 kg and 10 kg in China.

In­dus­try chal­lenges

"There are two main chal­lenges that our in­dus­try faces. First is the short­age of raw ma­te­ri­als such as stain­less steel scrap and ferro nickel. Both have to be im­ported with a duty of 2.5 per cent each. Sec­ondly, we face trade is­sues be­cause In­dia has a Free Trade Agree­ment with two of the ma­jor Stain­less Steel pro­duc­ers," said Pahuja.

The largest con­sum­ing seg­ment re­mains uten­sils and kitchen­wares, with about 50 per cent share in the over­all con­sump­tion in the coun­try. But the ar­chi­tec­ture, build­ing, and con­struc­tion seg­ment along with au­to­mo­tive, rail­ways, and trans­port are emerg­ing as fast grow­ing seg­ments for stain­less steel con­sump­tion.

"With 8-9 per cent growth rate, In­dia is the fastest grow­ing stain­less steel mar­ket glob­ally with the world av­er­age growth rate be­ing in the range of 2-3 per cent," said Pahuja.

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