PrintPack 2011 will have 450 stalls

N S Manku talks to Ramu Ramanathan about Indian manufacturers, China and print optimism, as IPAMA gears up for the tenth edition of PrintPack India in January 2011

28 Jun 2010 | By Ramu Ramanathan

You’ve returned from Ipex. How do you rate the show?
Ipex was a mixed bag for both Indian and international exhibitors. Visitors were small in numbers but it could have been worse had the volcano ash issue continued for yet another day. Ipex had a dominant presence of digital technology, the space occupied by HP was the biggest – and bigger than traditional sheetfed giants like Heidelberg. In fact Manroland experimented by not showcasing any machine on display. On a more optimistic note, print leaders in Europe felt Ipex would be a turning point and the industry will once again start to invest.

The last quarter has seen a boost in the Indian print industry. Why?
The first quarter of the 2010 has undoubtedly benefitted the print industry. The main reason being: the developed markets are emerging from the dark shadows of the economic slowdown. Most of them have found a ready and comfortable market in India to get their print and package jobs at very cost-effective rates and with international production standards.

Will higher cost of raw material (paper, fuel, aluminum) affect the margins in the fiscal year?
It is not only paper, fuel and aluminum – but hike in the price of steel which is going to increase the finish product cost of graphic arts machinery and products. This will have an impact on the printing and packaging industries products.

In what way?
There is a 8-9.5% hike in steel price. This unprecedented increase is going to enhance the finish product cost of printing, packaging, converting machines by 13.5%.

As president of IPAMA, what do you see as the underlying weakness in the Indian industry?
The graphic arts industry which includes printing, packaging, converting industries will have to have one representative body. This body should have a unified voice to represent all the nitty-gritties of the industry to the decision-makers at government level or international fora.

Has there been any progress during your tenure?
I am making sincere efforts to prepare the ground and provide an opportunity to bring all members under one banner and one voice.

Is it possible to create a high-level committee that serves as a pressure group?
Yes! Why not? As I’ve already said, one has to create the right forum and opportunity to set-up a high-level group of senior members of the industry with an open-mind and common cause.

Do you believe that the print industry in India will be able to sustain the double digit growth?
I am certain that print industry of India will not only sustain double digit growth – but it will have a rosy future – provided the industry maintains international standards and delivery deadlines.

In what manner can Indian manufacturers utilise their resources for future growth and investments?
Undoubtedly market growth as well as demand has sustained its tempo. The Indian manufacturing industry has to come up to the demand of the growing market by revamping their resources.  They have to adapt new technologies which have proved to be productive and cost-effective.  In case if the unit is covered by MSME – then government has extended fiscal avenues to such units with easy processing of finance from the scheduled banks.

What kind of fiscal provisions?
For the printing and packaging industry, the Union budget of 2010-11 brought relief like reduction of excise duty in corrugated boxes and packages from 8.24 to 4.12%. Besides this, there are Reserve Bank guidelines to all banks for the fast track processing of bank loans etc. The Export Promotion Council and the Ministry of MSME Government of India provides special grants to the industry who want to promote their products overseas in EPC / industry sponsored delegations or exhibitions. In addition, the ministry of MSME is willing to assist entrepreneurs in investing high-tech machines.

Do you think a powerful association like IPAMA has a greater role to play in India?
Undoubtedly, a strong association with a powerful membership base will have a cohesive voice that can resonate in the corridors of the government. This will provide the right picture and needs for a growth to match international market demands.
Will international companies increase their stake in Indian companies? We are already seeing signs of this ...
Since our government has a open-market policy; it is supporting the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy.

With this liberalised policy it is natural that overseas investors will like to put their stakes in a growing market such as ours.

What is your view about the anti -dumping stance that plate manufacturers like Technova have taken? Is this the "new" reality?
I feel, TechNova did make admirable efforts and convinced the Government of India to enforce anti-dumping regulations on cheap PS plates. We thank Pranav Parikh, the chairman and managing director of TechNova for this.
Speaking of China, why does China remain the number one print destination investment – instead of India?
Because China with the assistance and the blessings of their Government had invested and bolstered the infrastructure of their plants and machinery. This has made them eligible for investments from interested overseas parties. Whereas in India, we are not equipped to attract such collaboration. But the interest of overseas investors is diminishing in spite of the infrastructure facilities etc. These investors are now exploring prospects of long term association with Indian industries.

How serious a threat is China to India?
I do not see any serious threat from Chinese manufacturers. The mindset that Chinese products are cheaper vis-à-vis domestic produced products is disappearing. We are seeing products which have brand India preferred – and this is a good sign.

Is there a misnomer that the exports of Indian print machine gets confined to the emerging markets?
It is baseless. India produced graphic arts machines do not get confined to the emerging markets. We are a major producers of four-page web-machines which are being exported not only to North America but to the CIS countries, Middle East and Africa.

IPAMA’s plans for the next few months?
We are involved with the preparation of our 10th edition of PrintPack India 2011. Besides this, IPAMA’s new building is getting its finishing touches. This building will have a production promotion centre, a business centre (with comprehensive facilities) for the members, a technology educational institute, an ultramodern conference room for seminars and technical conferences – in addition to a full-fledged IPAMA Secretariat.

What about technical training …
There is a dearth of technical training. This is particularly true in the graphic arts industry. It is shocking that there are just five universities in India offering graduate and post-graduate level degrees in printing and packaging in India. Our country needs at least one university in each state imparting these courses. After all, if the literacy grows at such a fast pace –then the demand for the printed word is increasing. IPAMA has a dream to start an institute which can train design engineers, operational staff, print-management staff. The good news is, we are almost ready to move in that direction, very soon.
Does IPAMA’s PrintPack have lessons to gain from international trade shows which are hosted in Bejing, Chicago, Birmingham and Dusseldorf?
Yes, we will upgrade facilities for our participants during the PrintPack India exposition. Also, we will try to adapt the best of management techniques for a mega-event of the magnitude of PrintPack India.

What are the targets for PrintPack?
We will see participation of more than 450 exhibitors – both domestic and overseas – during PrintPack India 2011. Our members will showcase their new innovations. We will provide international standard facilities to exhibitors and visitors. ¦