By David Reed, UT EditorNew Delhi-There was no doubting the enthusiasm of participants in the opening session of the first-ever international polyurethanes event in India, the PU TECH 2005 conference and exhibition held here in the Pragati Maidan exhibition complex. But the mood was tempered by realism: the country’s polyurethanes industry has a long way to go to match international levels of use.”Polyurethanes are the fastest-growing polymer market in India,” said Shri N.Sarangapani, chairman of the Indian Polyurethane Association, creators of the event, addressing an audience of over 200 delegates and dignitaries Wednesday 26 Oct. At 100 000 tonnes of materials a year, it has doubled over the last four years, he said.But, Sarangapani admitted, “we have a long way to go … we are on the threshold of growth.”His comments were echoed and amplified by Shri Rahul Gautam, managing director of Sheela Foam Pvt Ltd, the country’s largest polyurethane slabstock foam maker and vice chairman of the IPUA. “The India market is just 1 percent of the global PU market,” he reported, so the populous country’s per capita consumption “is dismally low, to say the least.”Even if the population is corrected by the purchasing power parity, “It is a quarter of that in China, and one-fortieth that of the developed nations,” he said, barely 100 grams per person.”But the silver lining is the growth rate,” Gautam suggested, indicating that this was over 10 percent per annum. Furthermore, he saiud firmly, “it would be incorrect to perceive the present growth rate … is only due to a low base and will be difficult to sustain over years. There are strong socio-economic drivers supporting this growth, and they will continue to do so for a very long time,” he claimed.Other speakers in the opening session, including Shri E.V.K.S. Elangovan, minister of state for commerce and industry, were similarly enthusiastic. “I have been informed that the size of he polyurethane industry in India is approximately Rs 2000 crore (Rs 20 000 million) and is growing about 15 percent every year,” he told the delegates and visitors.The changes stem from a change in stance of the Indian government back in 1991, he suggested, when the country switched from having “an ‘inward-looking’ strategy” … to the announcement of the new more liberal approach. Under this, he said, “all manufacturing activities, except a few, are now open to private sector, without any control by government in terms of choice of location or size.”As a result, “India’s integration with the world economy has been steadily increasing,” he continued, before wishing the conference and exhibition all success.A more extensive report from this major event will be contained in the print version of Urethanes Technology magazine’s December 2005/January 2006 issue.”
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