ANDHRA PRADESH Granite units in Prakasam reap fallout of U.S.-China trade war

Workers giving finishing touches to a natural granite slab at the SEZ at Gullapalli in Prakasam district.

Windfall to be short-lived as anti-dumping duty may be imposed on India too

The ongoing trade war between the U.S. and China has come as a blessing in disguise for exporters of processed granite slabs from the Building Products Special Economic Zone at Gullapalli in Prakasam district.

The 100% export-oriented units, which process the world-famous black galaxy and other granite rough blocks and export them mostly to the U.S., are reaping a windfall in the wake of the U.S. Department of Commerce imposing triple-digit duties on imports of Chinese quartz used in manufacturing countertops and other household surfacing.

“We see a good demand for our natural-coloured material from overseas players, especially from the U.S., following imposition of 360% anti-dumping duty on Chinese quartz,” said a group of granite barons in the Growth Centre promoted by the Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC) to add value to the rough granite blocks mined from the famous Chimakurthy mines.

Export of coloured natural stone material including Black Pearl, Steel Grey, Viscount White, Moon White and River White varieties from the SEZ are expected to pick up during this fiscal, they feel.

On an average, 500 containers of processed granite slab material were exported from the SEZ, including the U.S. and West Asian countries, every month, earning precious foreign exchange to the tune of over ₹6,000 crore per annum in the last fiscal.

“The present market condition is conducive for granite exports to go up by 20% to 30% this year from 60,000 cubic metres done by the processing units in the SEZ last year,” said Jyothi Granite Exports Chief Operating Officer M. Shivaram.

Uncertainty looms

However, the nascent quartz units fear a slump in business as the U.S. Department of Commerce has set in motion the process for imposing anti-dumping duty on Indian quartz after a complaint was lodged by a domestic quartz manufacturer seeking imposition of 345% anti-dumping duty on exports from India.

“The proposal has created a lot of unrest among manufacturers of artificial quartz stone manufacturers,” said Mr. Pothula Rama Rao of Southern Rocks and Minerals Private Limited which exports both natural stone material and artificial stone material to the U.S. and Europe.

Authorities there have now sought data from exporters of Indian quartz. The Director General of Trade should intervene on their behalf during the proceedings initiated by the Department of Commerce and give a factual account of the subsidy provided to them, said N. Sudhakar of Satya Exports at the SEZ.

In view of the prevailing uncertainty, new players have decided to put their plans of setting up quartz processing units in the region on hold.

Source: Murali ONGOLE, MAY 23, 2019 00:40 IST

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