The Indian chemical industry is projected to grow from US $ 178 billion in 2019 to US $ 304 billion by 2025, growing at approx. 9% p.a. during this period. The chemical and petrochemical industry is anticipated to attract new investments in excess of US$ 100 billion. This is all set to transform the Indian chemical industry landscape and make the country self-reliant in this critical area that covers more than 80,000 commercial products.
However, despite being one of fastest growing economies, India ranks 51 in quality of port infrastructure globally, according to the Global Competitiveness Index 2019 report by World Economic Forum. Whereas India also currently ranks 9th in export and 6th in imports of chemicals, globally. Turnaround time, ports’ hinterland connectivity, depths at ports and red tape among others are some of the major challenges hindering the growth of country’s ports and maritime trade.
According to Economic Survey 2020-21, average turnaround time for ships at a country's major ports stood at 2.59 days in 2019-20, whereas the UNCTAD data for the median ship turnaround time globally stands at 0.97 days, pointing to the need to further improve efficiency.
The quality of port infrastructure is directly linked to better logistics performance, higher maritime trade, economic growth and higher yield for the industry. The broader economic contribution of ports infrastructure can be gauged from the fact that it supports no less than a staggering 80 per cent of the world’s trade which is seaborne.
So, be it supply disruptions in China or closure of plants in the EU and China due to increasing environmental concerns or the growing domestic demands in India itself, Indian chemical industry is looking ahead at a favourable climate for new investment and growth in the sector. And while there are many opportunities that are helping the Indian chemical industry grow, there are also challenges that are hindering this growth.
Growth of the chemical industry is also inextricably interlinked with logistical wherewithal. Also, chemicals are complex industrial production that necessitates the availability of well-equipped ports capable of storage and supporting the logistics of such merchandise.
The Government's Sagarmala Programme is a step in that direction aimed at bridging the infrastructural gap in the ports and maritime sector. There is no dearth of ports if non-major ports (There are about 200 of them), which have witnessed significant increase in traffic share, are also taken into account, but they need to be adequately developed.
However, the need of the hour is a national plan for an integrated development of Indian Ports in close consultation with the chemical sector with an eye on the sector’s Ports logistics requirements and common growth vision.
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