Covering more than 80,000 commercial products, India’s chemical industry is extremely diversified and can be broadly classified into bulk chemicals, specialty chemicals, agrochemicals, petrochemicals, polymers and fertilisers.
Globally, India is the fourth-largest producer of agrochemicals after the United States, Japan and China. India accounts for ~16% of the world production of dyestuffs and dye intermediates. Indian colorants industry has emerged as a key player with a global market share of ~15%. The country’s chemicals industry is de-licensed, except for few hazardous chemicals. India holds a strong position in exports and imports of chemicals at a global level and ranks 14th in exports and 8th in imports at global level (excluding pharmaceuticals).
India’s proximity to the Middle East, the world’s source of petrochemicals feedstock, enables it to benefit on economies of scale.
The Indian chemicals industry stood at US$ 178 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach US$ 304 billion by 2025 registering a CAGR of 9.3%. The demand for chemicals is expected to expand by 9% per annum by 2025. The chemical industry is expected to contribute US$ 300 billion to India’s GDP by 2025.
An investment of Rs. 8 lakh crore (US$ 107.38 billion) is estimated in the Indian chemicals and petrochemicals sector by 2025.
In October 2020, production of key chemicals was 880,569 MT and petrochemicals was 1,808,997 MT.
The specialty chemicals constitute 22% of the total chemicals and petrochemicals market in India. The demand for specialty chemicals is expected to rise at a 12% CAGR in 2019-22. The petrochemicals demand is expected to record a 7.5% CAGR between 2019 and 2023, with polymer demand increasing at 8%. The Indian agrochemicals market is expected to register an 8% CAGR to reach US$ 3.7 billion by FY22 and US$ 4.7 billion by FY25.
In January 2020, exports of organic and inorganic chemicals grew 2.55 % YoY.
Investments and Recent Developments
A few recent developments/investments in the Indian chemical sector are as follows:
- In January 2020, Ultramarine & pigments have successfully commissioned the Sulphonation plant setup in Nellore, Andhra Pradesh, to manufacture surfactants and specialty chemicals.
- In December 2020, Bhoramdev Cooperative Sugar Factory Kawardha and Chhattisgarh Distillery’s subsidiary NKJ Biofuel signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the country’s first ethanol plant to be set up in the state under the public-private partnership (PPP) model.
- In November 2020, Indian companies are witnessing interest from strategic investors led by Japan, Korea and Thailand, as they seek to diversify supply chains from China. This includes large deals in FY 2020—KKR’s $414 million acquisition of JB Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Ltd. and Carlyle’s $210 million acquisition of SeQuent Scientific Ltd.
- On November 06, 2020, HIL (Hindustan Insecticides Limited) signed a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Chemicals & Petro Chemicals to achieve revenue target of Rs. 451 crore (US$ 60.86 million).
- On November 04, 2020, Pidilite Industries acquired Huntsman Group’s Indian subsidiary for Rs. 2,100 crore (US$ 283.38 million) to strengthen adhesives and sealants portfolio that will complement the company’s retail portfolio.
- In October 2020, Grasim Industries signed a definitive agreement with Lubrizol Advanced Materials (speciality chemical company) to manufacture and supply chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) resin in Gujarat. The initial production is expected to begin in end-2022.
The government has started various initiatives such as mandating BIS-like certification for imported chemicals to prevent dumping of cheap and substandard chemicals into the country.
The Indian government recognises chemical industry as a key growth element and forecast to increase share of the chemical sector to ~25% of the GDP in the manufacturing sector by 2025.
- Under the Union Budget 2021-22, the government allocated Rs. 233.14 crore (US$ 32.2 million) to the Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals.
- The Government of India is considering launching a production linked incentive (PLI) scheme in the chemical sector to boost domestic manufacturing and exports.
- A 2034 vision for the chemicals and petrochemicals sector has been set up by the government to explore opportunities to improve domestic production, reduce imports and attract investments in the sector. The government plans to implement production-link incentive system with 10-20% output incentives for the agrochemical sector; to create an end-to-end manufacturing ecosystem through the growth of clusters.
- In October 2020, the government urged players in the agrochemicals industry to come out with new molecules of global standards for the farmers’ benefit, while CropLife India, the industry body, pitched for stable policies and regulatory regimes to boost growth in the sector.
- 100% FDI is allowed under the automatic route in the chemicals sector with few exceptions that include hazardous chemicals. Total FDI inflow in the chemicals (other than fertilisers) sector reached US$ 18.06 billion between April 2000 and September 2020.
- The government has proposed several incentives for setting up a sourcing or manufacturing platform within an Indian SEZ:
- Effective April 1, 2020, 100% Income Tax exemption on export income for SEZ units for the first five years, 50% for the next five years thereafter and 50% of the ploughed back export profit for next five years.
- Single window clearance for central and state-level approvals.
- Duty free import/domestic procurement of goods for development, operation and maintenance of SEZ units.
- In December 2020, the PCPIR policy is being completely redesigned. Under the new PCPIR Policy 2020-35, a combined investment of Rs. 10 lakh crore (US$ 142 billion) is targeted by 2025, Rs. 15 lakh crore (US$ 213 billion) by 2030 and Rs. 20 lakh crore (US$ 284 billion) by 2035 in all PCPIRs across the country. The four PCPIRs are expected to generate employment for ~33.83 lakh people. ~3.50 lakh persons have been employed in direct and indirect activities related to PCPIRs by the end of 2020.
Despite the current pandemic situation, the Indian chemical industry has numerous opportunities considering the supply chain disruption in China and trade conflict among the US, Europe and China. Anti-pollution measures in China will also create opportunities for the Indian chemical industry in specific segments.
Additional support, in terms of fiscal incentives, such as tax breaks and special incentives through PCPIRs or SEZs to encourage downstream units will enhance production and development of the industry. The dedicated integrated manufacturing hubs under Petroleum, Chemicals and Petrochemicals Investment Regions (PCPIR) policy to attract an investment of Rs. 20 lakh crore (US$ 276.46 billion) by 2035.
To bring about structural changes in the working of domestic chemical industry, future investments should not only focus on transportation of fuels such as petrol and diesel, but also on crude-to-chemicals complexes or refineries set up to cater to the production of chemicals.
Note: Conversion rate used for January 2021 is Rs. 1 = US$ 0.0137
References: IBEF (Indian Brand Equity Foundation ),RBSA Advisors, Department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals, India Chem report 2020, Dyestuffs Manufacturers Association of India