MUMBAI — Chinese press maker Haitian International Holdings Ltd. plans to expand its operation in India.
The company will start by taking over a leased 1-acre property on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, where it will stock injection presses manufactured at its plant in Vietnam within a few months.
By early next year the facility will assemble presses, according to Milind Agnihotry, general sales manager at Zhafir Plastics Machinery Ltd., the company’s Indian subsidiary.
Zhafir is in the midst of applying for necessary licenses for a larger operation in India. “Our plan is to begin with the stock-and-sell operation followed with assembly of injection molding presses soon,” Agnihotry said.
The timing of Haitian’s decision is significant, with the recent appointment of Narendra Modi as India’s prime minister. Plastics officials expect the new government to be stable and friendly to industry.
Agnihotry declined to say that Haitian’s plans in India were related to the new government, but rather that it is a long-stated plan of the company to grow in India.
“India is an important market and expanding the operation is in line with serving the market more efficiently,” he said.
The decision does mark a change in policy for Haitian, though. In 2010, Helmar Franz, Haitian’s executive director and chief strategy officer, specifically cited India as a difficult market, and he blamed the government’s decision to impose anti-dumping duties on Chinese machines, starting in 2009.
Those duties have been extended through 2015, and the New Delhi-based Plastics Machinery Manufacturers Association of India has petitioned the government to keep the duties on Chinese made hydraulic machines through 2019, and to expand the duties to include presses made in Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines.
Zhafir sells 250-350 presses in India annually.
It is not clear when Zhafir would consider upgrading the Indian operation to full-fledged production facility.
“We may consider further expansion after starting the assembly operation, next year, depending on demand in the Indian market,” Agnihotry said.
It is largely expected that the injection press market in India will jump dramatically this year, with one expert predicting 35 percent growth.