To achieve this, Gupta called for more support from India’s government: improving infrastructure and the availability of quality power; helping with the costs of technology up-grades; and tackling skills shortages.
Of more direct concern is the increasing impact of non-tariff trading barriers on the sector’s export performance.
“The government needs to identify such barriers and resolve them to increase the un-competitiveness of Indian products in the ASEAN countries,” said the AIRIA president.
India’s law makers also need to better understand the needs of the Indian rubber industry, continued Gupta, noting that the government had slated 78 rubber products for free trade agreements – a list that may well increase in future.
This, noted Gupta, was happening just as rubber manufacturers are being severely impacted by recent hikes in duties on imports of natural rubber: “As manufacturers can import balloons at a duty of 10 percent, “the entire balloon industry in India has turned traders.”
Likewise, Gupta also noted that the Indian government had signed an FTA to import dehusking rollers at a nil rate of duty, versus an import duty of 10 percent on the rubber needed to manufacture them.
Separately, Apollo Tyres Ltd chairman Onkar Kanwar has called on the Indian government to stem the flow of cheap tire imports coming into the country – noting that truck-bus-radial (TBR) imports, mostly from China, had almost doubled in the three months to 30 Sept, compared to the same period last year.
“The problem of low-cost imports is putting at risk the entire ‘Make in India’ clarion call by the Indian government,” Kanwar said in a financial report issued 30 Oct.
Amid these growing challenges, the Indian rubber industry is awaiting a new National Rubber Policy (NRP), which is soon to be launched by the Indian government. The policy will seek to address the demands of the rubber industry and growers, at institutional and organisational levels, said Sachin Chandak, western region chairman of AIRIA, based in Mumbai.