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Stainless India: Production growth vs. consumption potential

Matjaž Matošec - 9 July 2015

The Indian stainless steel market is flourishing, but production growth outstrips that of consumption. Can the country turn this trend around?

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Mr Matjaž Matošec
Matjaž Matošec is Editor of Stainless Steel World News and Manager of the Stainless Steel World Conference.
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Production of stainless steel in India has risen remarkably in the past 22 years, witnessing a 14-fold growth, which makes the projected fastest-growing large economy in the world the third biggest producer of stainless steel, after China and Japan (see the ISSF Stainless Steel in Figures 2015 report). Consumption has been climbing too, but at a slower pace, resulting in oversupply and decreasing capacity utilisation. While this may carry certain overtones of concern, India exhibits enormous investment potential, which is likely to boost the country’s use of stainless steel and help consumption catch up with production, thus further contributing to India’s rapid economic growth.

In their recent Stainless Steel World analyses of the Indian stainless steel market, James Chater and Nirmal Mathur, President of the Indian Stainless Steel Development Association, came to similar conclusions, both predicting a bright future ahead.

To be sure, there are a number of obstacles hindering the realisation of the country’s immense potential, ranging from bureaucracy and power shortages to pollution and poor infrastructure. But with the new Indian government’s commitment to introduce much-needed reforms, domestic demand for stainless steel may soon explode. What’s more, some of the problems facing Indian economy can be seen also as opportunities.

A case in point is infrastructure—the area of development with the greatest capacity to benefit the stainless steel industry. Last year the Indian government launched an initiative to build 100 “smart cities” throughout the country, by 2024. If this ambitious project comes to fruition, India’s already rapid urbanisation is bound to skyrocket to unprecedented levels in the coming years and decades, which promises enormous opportunities for stainless steel consumption. Just think of two sectors deeply involved in the erection of new cities: the architecture, building and construction (ABC) and the automotive, railway and transport (ART) sectors, both of which are already seeing impressive growth rates. New buildings of all sorts, plus street furniture on the one hand, and railway wagons, passenger and metro coaches, automotive exhausts, buses and bus stops on the other are only the most obvious examples of stainless steel applications necessitated by urban expansion. Add to this the required growth of the power and water industries (desalination, water purification, sewage treatment, plumbing, etc.) and you get a likely—affirmative—answer to the question initially posed.

For a deeper insight into the Indian stainless steel market, read the full articles by James Chater and Nirmal Mathur.

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