The Market with Manifold Opportunities
Dr Raman Ramachandran, Head, South Asia and Chairman, BASF

India has to become self-sufficient in its chemical requirements since the dependency on import will always put the nation on the back foot with regards to the vagrancies in the global market. Dr Raman Ramachandran, Head, South Asia and Chairman, BASF India disseminates his observation of the Indian Specialty Chemical Industry with the readers of CEW.

The opportunities for the chemical industry in India are manifold. Today, India is the third largest market for chemicals in Asia and is expected to grow further. According to the Head of South Asia and Chairman of BASF India, with increasing purchasing power for all groups of the population, consumers want to buy longer lasting goods and goods that improve their quality of life and status. This offers the chemical industry a tremendous scope for innovations. Moreover, he also puts impetus on India becoming self-sufficient in its chemical requirements. This is a strategy that China has adopted very successfully. China is reasonably self-sufficient and hence has become an exporter. As per his analysis, as an importer, it always puts India on the back foot with regards to the vagrancies in the global market.

Opportunity & Challenges
BASF is very optimistic on India as a marketplace since it foresees a very bright future for the specialty chemicals market in India. This could be elucidated from the confidence of Ramachandran in the enveloping Indian market. Furthermore, in a recent conversation with CEW, the MD has cited the Tata Strategic Report as a gesture of his influence on the Indian specialty chemical arena. The same report has projected that the specialty chemicals market in the country will reach USD 60-70 billion by 2020.

However, along with the positivity and optimism, Ramachandran has also identified certain predicament in the market. According to him, one of the biggest challenges are the lack of infrastructure and power shortage. Besides, ready availability of raw materials are some of the other main deterrents. He further pointed-out that these are the issues which are creating barriers for large scale direct investments. However, the man in charge of BASF expressed his buoyancy to these paltry matters by stating that these issues are easily surmountable with adequate government support and providing an additional boost to the R&D sector.

Growth Drivers
Ramachandran believes in the basic notion that the growing population would require resources which would ensure sustainable living. So, according to him, innovations based on chemistry will play a key role in three areas in particular; resources, environment and climate; food and nutrition and quality of life. Amongst these themes, water will play an important role in ensuring a good quality of life and food and nutrition. He further cited the Frost & Sullivan data which projected that the Indian water and wastewater treatment market will reach ` 10,230 crore in 2016. So taking advantage of the opportunity in water segment, BASF is committed to grow its business in the water space. As part of its strategy, the company has also started working on expansion of its business beyond flocculants and coagulants in the industrial sector. Moreover, the company has identified the demand drive in the municipal and industrial sectors which is on water treatment and sewage treatment. According to Ramachandran, the Company will offer its products or technologies to the municipal sector through direct channels, OEMs or service providers for raw water treatment, dewatering of municipal sludge(s) and sea water desalination. Here BASF’s water treatment solutions would be able to further the vision of safeguarding a healthy future.

Future Plans
BASF’s growth and contribution to Asia Pacific will also develop along with the changing economies and demographics. According to Ramachandran, the company will continue its endeavor in providing solutions for the needs of the emerging middle class forming the base of the pyramide through solutions for affordable mass housing, food fortification, wind energy and water purification. These are in line with the four megatrends that the company has identified; resources, environment and climate; food and nutrition and quality of life. BASF is planning to enter India with the right customers base and later extend this further to other South Asian countries.