Editorial – October 2023
The great Indian growth story revolves around the infrastructure development and the steel is in the center position of this process. One can not imagine infra development without steel. Thus if Indian growth story has to materialize fully, it will need a strong support from the steel industry and stainless steels are expected to play an important role in this developmental process.
Stainless steel has always been a sought after material due to its specific properties, corrosion resistance, durability and aesthetic looks. The inclusion of Nickel makes it quite costlier than other alloy steels especially given the fact that India does not produce Nickel and caters its 100% requirement by imports if one compares a bridge made of stainless steel with the one made with normal mild steel, the SS bridge will cost more but it will also last for many years. Same is the case with the building made using SS rebars. It will cost more but will last longer Thus a lifecycle study shows that actually stainless steels are cheaper material but require slightly more initial cost, which will be recovered during the long life of the product. Thus for a sustained development model, stainless steel becomes a natural choice. Of course now new stainless steel categories with less or no nickel are developed to offset the cost factor.
Today India is the 5 largest economy of the world and also the fastest growing economy among the big economies. In spite of this, the average income of an Indian, influenced by the high population, is still less than US$2500 per anum which greatly arrests his buying power. As we know, with about 38% share, SS has a major application in consumer durables segment followed by around 25% share in process industry segment. The price sensitivity of an Indian consumer restricts the growth of SS sector to some extent. Still a 5.4% CAGR for the last so many years is not a bad indicator by any standards. Also with the growing applications in architecture, building, construction (ABC) and also in automotive, railways, transport (ART), stainless steels are surely poised for a decent
growth in coming years.
With the clouds of uncertainty roaming around over the Europe and the Middle East (due to Ukraine – Russia and Israel – Hamas war) India is one of the few growing economies of the world. Also, China’s economy is seen de growing and many companies are preferring to move their manufacturing base outside China. India can make the best use of this situation and consolidate its economy. Remember, steel will always be part of this consolidation!