Mumbai — India's plastics exports posted growth of 17.1 percent, rising to $8.85 billion during the year ending March 31, compared with $7.56 billion in the previous year, growing faster than the country's overall exports, according to the Plastics Export Promotion Council.
The United States, China and the United Arab Emirates emerged as the top three markets, accounting for slightly more than 25 percent of the country's plastics exports.
Exports to the United States hit $1.1 billion, the first time they've topped $1 billion, the industry body said.
Plexconcil, as the organization is known, said it's targeting 20 percent export growth, to $10.6 billion in the current fiscal year ending March 31, 2019. It said it's targeting by 2025 for the country's exports to reach three percent of global plastics trade, up from currently less than 1 percent.
At a July 21 ceremony in Mumbai to honor Indian plastics exporters, government and industry officials outlined strategies to boost those exports.
Officials from neighboring Maharashtra state said they were examining creating a plastics industry cluster and research and development center.
"We are actively considering a special cluster for plastics industry where common facility centers will be available to all types of plastic manufacturers and exporters for accessing these facilities, besides, creating [research and development] centers for the plastics industry," said Subhash Desai, Maharashtra state industries and mining minister.
He said India's share of the global plastic business is minor but suggested the government is focused on boosting exports.
"Share in global trade is very small considering India's continuous efforts to enhance footprints in global exports," he said. "Plastic is one industry where we can increase exports to the world."
The joint secretary in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Shyamal Misra, called upon leaders in the industry to formalize an export strategy.
"Plastics exports are less than 3 percent of India's overall merchandise exports and we need on work on doubling the share," he said.
"The proportion of raw materials in our exports is still very high and we need to target value-added product exports such as engineering plastics, bioplastics and biopolymers, and hope plastics exporters help India become a $5 trillion economy," he said.
The council's ceremony also included several messages from government officials about the need to clean up pollution from plastics, mixed in with congratulatory messages for the companies leading India's early-stage export push.
"I have been telling them try to think about biodegradable plastics; try to think about the plastic which can be used and recycled; think about the plastic which cannot damage the environment," said Suresh Prabhu, the minister for Commerce, Industry and Aviation.
"Plastics are necessary in day-to-day life but at the same time we have to consider cause and effect — how can we make plastics part of our sustainability initiative," he said. "Options to plastics are equally bad. Cutting of trees is as bad, so let us find out a sustainable way of promoting plastics."