High infrastructure costs make salt export non-competitive in Gujarat

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Jamnagar (Gujarat), May 17 : Salt becomes non-competitive in the global market as increase in infrastructure costs has hit exporters badly in Gujarat.

Gujarat contributes 70 per cent of the total salt production in the country. he increase in ship freight and a similar increase in wagon costs in the last two years are rendering salt exports non-competitive.

The price of salt has also escalated due to rise in freight rates, caused by the hike in fuel prices.

Australian is increasing its export. On an average around ten million industrial salt is produced equivalent to 75 per cent of its output.

On the other hand, India exports only two to three million tonnes of salt a year.

The production of salt has been affected as a result of extended winter and off-season rainfall.

In 2005, India exported 39 lakhs tonnes of salt, but there has been a drastic decline to 19-20 lakhs tonnes.

Meanwhile, experts in the industry blame the government's apathy for the situation.

"The government should support basic infrastructure, roads, logistics and power. Despite being an established industry, till date we do not have infrastructure and logistic facilities. Salt is a commodity dependent on demand and supply factors. In 2005, if 200 lakh tonnes of salt was produced, it means there is potential and the productivity must not come down from this level," said B.C. Raval, secretary of the Indian Salt Manufacturers Association.

In 2005, salt production stood at 199 lakh tones has decreased to 165 lakhs tonnes in 2007 while China's salt production increased to 405 lakh tonnes.

The main consumers of salt are Japan, Vietnam and Bangladesh. India is the world's third largest salt producer after US and China.

The annual production of salt production in India is around 17 million in which five million tonnes is consumed as edible salt and another 8.5 million tonnes is used by industries as raw material and the balance is uses to export to other countries.

Experts opine that further increase in infrastructure and power charges would only impact the price of salt. By Ashok Solanki

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