The last few weeks have been extremely quiet. Following the elections, the financial budget presented on July 5 was a blink-and-miss-it for our trade as it focused on bigger issues such as government disinvestments, the digital push in commercial transactions, expediting electric mobility, making fossil fuels more expensive, clean water supply to every Indian, incentivising start-ups and, finally, taxing the super-rich even more. Indirect taxes (ie, customs duties) have been left largely untouched, with subsidies given on raw materials used in the production of automotive battery packs and renewable energy. Considering that economic growth has slowed, many industries had been expecting some major reforms or subsidies to push consumption, but there were none.
Automotive industry sales have shrunk tremendously. Manufacturers have been impacted by several factors, including: the overhaul of their production lines to comply with new pollutant emission norms; low consumer interest; establishing deadlines for adapting to electric vehicles; and growth of app-based cab service providers. The fortunes of the secondary aluminium industry could be affected too, as around 70% of its production is dedicated to the automotive segment. The government wants to set 2030 as the final date for shifting entirely from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles - a target that is perhaps too ambitious, but we have already seen this government walk the talk.
As for other metals, there has been a considerable slowdown in the zinc market as domestic prices have been suffocated by excessive availability. Despite LME nickel hitting the roof, stainless prices have remained static - more a result perhaps of the fall in chromium and ferrous prices. The brass industry has been operating steadily but overall volumes have become tapered. The aggression which India showed early in the year for items such as cables, motors and Talk has also weakened. Overall, the slowdown within industry is palpable and business is continuing in the hope of doing better in the times to come.
Metco Marketing (IND) PVT Ltd, Senior Vice-President of the BIR Non-Ferrous Metals Division