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boosting exports


                     A CRITICAL ANALYSIS
                                                                     Vikrant V. Rastogi
                                             Associate Editor, Fair Planner, Jaipur, India
                                                                              K. Vikram
                                       President, Stone Technology Centre, Jaipur, India

      In sixties Indian companies exported granite blocks. With the introduction of
      imported sawing, polishing, tiling and cutting machines export of polished granite
      slabs and tiles increased while the export of granite blocks decreased. This has
      definitely increased foreign exchange earnings for the country. Similarly, from
      North India in 90s green marble blocks were exported, but slowly and slowly
      Indian exporters have started exporting polished green marble slabs and tiles, thus
      increasing the value of exports. Inspite of all these, granite and marble blocks are
      still exported.

      Similar instances for sandstone, slate, quartzite and limestone can also be seen
      during the last 15 years. It started with the export of natural cleft stones in the
      beginning. Today, different finishes – diamond sawn, honed, polished, bush
      hammered, tumbled, acid washed etc. - have become popular. While some
      countries have liking for polished material, others prefer natural or different

      India’s contribution to the world exports by tonnage is 9.5%, but when these
      figures are compared with China (19.5%), a new entrant in the world market,
      who has emerged to the first position in only 15 years, is not encouraging. Italy
      occupies second position with 14.7%. India is at third position followed by Spain.
      Therefore, a critical analysis of Indian exports from marketing point of view is


      The trend of exports of granite, natural stones and products thereof from 1987 –88
      to 2001 – 2002 is given at Table 1. Classification of items in granite, marble
      slate and other stones have been mentioned. The exports rose from 1,043.7
      million rupees in 1987 - 1988 to 26,146 million rupees in 2001 – 2002 in 14
      years. While the increase appears to be significant, it is not up to the mark.

      If the situation of dimension stone sector 20 years’ back is compared to today’s,
      position most of the people know about all the natural stones, its varieties,
      finishes and sources. While jet has reduced flying time between countries,
      internet has helped one and all to obtain information on sources, varieties,
      finishes, prices and payment terms at once. Negotiations have become quick and
      the products have become very competitive.
      The known markets for natural stones had been Italy, China, Germany, Japan, and
      USA to a great extent. With fair participation and contacts through internet,
      another category of markets has also developed, like UK, Spain, Australia,
      France, South Korea, Switzerland, and Singapore. It is only very recently that
      some companies have identified special markets like Poland, Czech Republic,
      Ireland, Australia, New Zealand. Mexico, South Africa, Portugal, Egypt, Sri
      Lanka, Thailand etc. The varieties of stones, its finishes and finished products
      have also been different for different countries. A close understanding of the
      market with respect to its requirement, climatic conditions, finishes, sizes is
      essential to export Indian stones in such countries.

      There are some Indian stones, which are quite similar to others in the world.
      Such stones has a stiff competition with respect to CIF prices. The ocean freight
      from one country to another is significant for low priced stones like slate,
      limestone, quartzite and sandstone; specially when the finish is natural. For
      polished granite and marble, the ocean freight is important but not to that extent.
      There is a significant scope for Indian exporters in venturing into new countries
      where requirement may not be large but quality products can be sold at a better
      price and payment terms. Such markets are difficult to locate but can definitely
      be identified.


      Feed-back from local architects and builders would be of great help in
      assertaining what type of stones can be used in a particular country. A close look
      at climatic conditions and conventional uses like interior, exterior, flooring, wall
      cladding, interior decoration, panelling, etc. is essential. Import duty and other
      taxes for such items must be examined. Analysis of finish and prices must be
      made for existing stones. The existing distribution channels must be studied in
      greater detail. Import profile with specifications of such stones would be of great
      assistance. Based on this, similar stones can be offered in the market to match the
      colours, sizes’, finishes etc.


      The comparative figures of exports for various items both in million rupees and
      million US Dollars from 1997-98 to 2001 – 2002 have been given in Table 2.
      The percentage growth/short-fall both in rupees and in US Dollars has also been
      calculated. It would be seen that in the case of granite blocks, marble polished
      marble slabs & tiles and slate, there had been a short-fall during 2001 – 2002 with
      respect to the previous financial year. However, granite polished tiles, marble
      blocks and other stones have shown a growth in 2001 – 2002 with respect to
      previous year. It is significant to note that over-all growth of stone exports in
      rupee terms in 2000 – 2001 was 20.18% whereas in 2001 – 2002 it is only 4.63%.
     The country-wise exports during 2001 – 2002 are given at Table 3, which clearly
     indicates that the best markets in descending order are USA, Republic of China
     and Italy. For marble Saudi Arabia is also a good and steady market while for
     other stones, UK and Bangladesh are big markets. It clearly indicates that in
     order to get big export orders with liberal payment terms, one must participate in
     international fairs in USA, China and Italy. For stones and stone products,
     probably, International Tile and Stone Show being held in Las Vegas, USA,
     Stonetech in Beijing and China Stone in Shanghai would be quite interesting.
     Marmomacc in Verona and Carraramarmotec in Carrara are important fairs in
     Italy. Participation in SaudiStone in Saudi Arabia would also be advantageous for
     exporting marble slabs and tiles. For UK market, London Stone Show would be
     quite interesting.

     In order to assist exporters in establishing new contacts, emerging potential
     markets identified during 2001 – 2002 for natural stones are given in Table 4.
     While the first part mentions the emerging markets for various items, the bottom
     part lists emerging potential countries where Indian exporters can venture. Some
     of the countries are not at all known, but they have reasonably good potential for
     importing stones and stone products. Indian exporters would find some of these
     countries interesting.

     Efforts must be made by Indian exporters not to sell granite or marble blocks, but
     to export polished slabs, tiles and value added items.


     Many times one can get inquiries through periodicals and magazines, which must
     be followed up seriously. Subscribing to such magazines can be effective.
     Advertising in a magazine, which has a distribution in indentified country, can
     bring in some good contacts to the exporter. The advertisement should be with as
     little text as possible but must attract every reader. It must be remembered at-
     least five persons read that one magazine.

     Internet has an important role to play and many times through website new buyers
     are identified. Besides this, there are many buyers who float their enquiries
     through special websites. Most of the time such enquiries are not complete in
     themselves and, therefore, such websites must procure full specifications from the
     buyers and then put on the net. Proper follow up with such buyers some times
     may lead to good export.

     Fair participation is an important tool to get into new markets. Selection of the
     fair, location of the stall with at least two sides open and good publicity can help
     an exporter to a great extent. Impressive brochure and visiting card leave a
     lasting impression on the buyer. It is rather difficult for a company to participate
     in two or three international fairs. Therefore, based on the strength of Indian
      exporter, participation in one or two good fairs in a year with attractive display of
      products and posters must be planned to attract new buyers.


      The conventional methods of marketing have been followed so far. Besides these
      conventional methods, the following unconventional methods of marketing are
      becoming popular. Probably the following marketing strategy would be used
      extensively in the present decade by some of the exporters:

      1. Warehouse Abroad as a Joint Venture:

      A good Indian exporter with adequate quarrying and processing facilities can
      possibly think of opening a warehouse abroad as a joint venture with a foreign
      company. Instead of stones lying in India, these would remain abroad for display
      and sale purpose. If the set-up abroad is good and has a good location, then it
      would become popular. There could also be retail sale of stones and stone
      products. At times many small importers would also approach this warehouse for
      buying stones in full/part container and selling through their own ware house.
      This would mean effecting sales in three different ways:-

      (a) Warehouse imports stones for its own consumption and retails it.
      (b) Warehouse imports containers for special projects.
      (c) Warehouse imports full containers for small importers where payments are
          directly made by the small importers, but through the warehouse.

      Modalities of operation can be worked out. While Indian exporters’ strength lies
      in its quarrying and processing facilities, quality products and despatch upto port,
      the foreign company takes care of its own warehouse, administration and
      marketing set up etc.

      2. Marketing Though Small Retailers:

      Indian exporters have so far been supplying stones to big foreign importers, who
      sell stones, may be in pellets or even as full containers to retailers. Europe is such
      an example where one big warehouse in Germany can cater to the requirement of
      many retailers in and around Germany i.e. France, Switzerland, UK, Italy, Spain,
      Portugal, Norway, Poland, Czech Republic etc. If the Indian exporter contacts
      retailers even in one country and takes their orders, combines these and exports
      one full container say for three retailers, better market prospects would emerge for
      Indian exporters with respect to price, payment terms etc. Foreign retailer would
      also have a better price, besides all facilities, which he has been getting from the
      big importer. This would require lot of travelling and selection of one or two
      countries to start with. Constant follow up with such retailers is required and
      periodic visits must be made.
       3. Barter Arrangement:

       It has not picked up so far, but it is felt that very soon barter arrangement would
       become popular. One can import Rosa Alacante and Crema Marfil from Spain as
       slabs and in turn supply green marble or a variety of sandstones.

       Import of marbles has been popular so far. Crema Marfil, Roja Allcante, Bianco
       C, Thasos, Statuario, Alabaster, and Galala are popular names in India. Earlier
       these were imported as blocks, but because of the present import policy, these are
       being imported as polished slabs. The exporters of these items have big quarrying
       and processing facilities in different countries. They would be willing to have a
       barter arrangement where Indian companies import these stones from them and
       they import selected varieties of Indian granites, marbles and other stones on the
       same payment terms. A proper selection of such companies in India and abroad
       with good financial standing would help in exports.

       4. Investment by Foreign Companies in India:

       There have been some cases where foreign wholesalers and investors have taken
       exclusive mines in India. Material is processed and exported exclusively for them
       for being sold in that country or in selected countries.

       There have been many instances of foreign companies investing in granite mines
       in South India so as to obtain right quality of material for their own consumption.
       There could be such cases now for green marble, a variety of slates, sandstones
       and even for limestones. Investment by foreign companies would provide
       necessary support to the Indian companies and would help them in supplying
       large quantities to the same buyer.


       There is a strong need to use unconventional methods of marketing. Indian
       Exporters muse appoint distributors abroad, who can sell stones and stone
       products in that country. Full knowledge of markets is necessary with respect to
       quality, finish, price and payment terms. China is emerging as a major player
       today for all varieties of granites and marbles with respect to price. Probably, it
       would be advantageous for Indian companies to enter into some foreign markets
       where comparatively small quantities can be sold with better payment terms.
       Greater emphasis should be given on quality and finish as this alone is going to
       secure better price. While hardly any financial support would be available from
       the Government, whether it is State or Centre, Export Promotion Councils, etc.,
       the Indian exporters will have to stand on their own feet and prove their metal
       against all odds.
A consortium approach of marketing specially for exclusive stones, like absolute
black, black galaxy, Jhansi red, fossil stone, dark green marble, blue marble etc.
must be undertaken. For a better price and payment terms.

The concept of design centres is common in USA. Such a concept must be
followed in India. Similar design centres must be set up in New Delhi, Jaipur,
Udaipur, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad for boosting export of
marble, granite, slate, sandstone, quartzite and limestone. This concept has been
studied in detail. It would be of significant advantage to Indian exporters to have
such design centres for overseas buyers. Publicity through good advertisement in
international magazines would definitely bring dividend to Indian exporters.

There is no fixed recipe for boosting exports. No-one can give a marketing
capsule. Having participated in more than 25 international stone fairs in the world
and being well-conversant with the Indian products which can be sold, some
important markets have been identified. Probably, marketing capsules based on
specific products, countries and finance available can be prepared and given to an
exporter. It would be advantageous at this stage for a new entrant to take
assistance of an international marketing consultant to identify appropriate market
in venturing into export. Even reputed Indian exporters can also avail of such
services for increasing their exports and therefore get more value for their

Stone Technology Centre has been providing export marketing consultancy to
Indian exporters in identifying good markets as also helping foreign importers in
identifying good exporters. Sourcing, inspection and maintaining the quality are
strong tools of Stone Technology Centre, which are known the world over. It is
hoped that this would provide a big jump in export figures for Indian exporters.
    Table 1 : Trend of Export of Granite, Natural Stones
                   and Products Thereof

                                                             (Value in Million Rs.)
                                                         Slate, Other
            Granite & Products   Marble & Products
                       Thereof             Thereof
                                                            Stones &      Total
                                                     Products Thereof
 1987-88               1,043.0                   -                 0.7       1,043.7
 1989-90               1,470.0                   -                 0.5       1,470.5
 1991-92               3,761.1               110.4               312.0       4,183.5
 1993-94               6,697.0               477.7               548.1       7,722.8
 1995-96              10,827.1               826.4             1,191.6      12,845.1
 1996-97              11,388.1             1,035.5             1,826.4      14,250.0
 1997-98               9,577.4             1,242.7             1,446.0      12,266.1
 1998-99              10,130.0             1,111.0             1,778.0      13,019.0
1999-2000             16,712.0             1,580.0             2,501.0      20,793.0
2000-2001             19,540.0             2,362.0             3,086.0      24,988.0
2001-2002             20,463.0             2,085.0             3,598.0      26,146.0
                    NATURAL STONES
                      TO 2001-2002
                                                                                (Value in Million Rs/Million US $)

                                   Growth/                 Growth/                   Growth/                 Growth/
                                   Shortfall               Shortfall                 Shortfall               Shortfall
                   1997-       1998-                   1999-                    2000-                    2001-
                                           (%)                     (%)                      %                        %
                    98          99                     2000                     2001                     2002

                    3,010.80    3,000.00       -0.36    6,658.00   121.93       7,198.00          8.11    7,147.00       -0.71
Rough/Cut           ($81.37)    ($70.92)   -12.84      ($153.84)   116.92       ($157.82)         2.59   ($149.90)       -5.02

Polished and
Other               6,566.60    7,130.00        8.58   10,054.00       41.01    12,342.0         22.76   13,316.00        7.89
Processed          ($177.48)   ($168.56)       -5.03   ($232.30)       37.81    ($270.60)        16.49   ($279.28)        3.21
Granite Tiles

Marble Blocks /       75.70      157.00    107.40         70.00        -55.41     102.00         45.71     471.00    361.76
Slabs                ($2.05)     ($3.71)       80.98     ($1.62)       -56.33     ($2.24)        38.27     ($9.88)   341.07

Marble              1,167.00     954.00    -18.25       1,510.00       58.28    2,260.00         49.67    1,614.00   -28.58
Polished Slabs /    ($31.54)     (22.55)   -28.50       ($34.89)       54.72     ($49.55)        42.02    ($33.85)   -31.69

                     565.90      867.00        53.21    1,101.00       26.99    1,436.00         30.43     934.00    -34.96
Slate Stones        ($15.29)    ($20.50)       34.07    ($25.44)       24.10     ($31.48)        23.74    ($19.59)   -37.77

Other Stones &       880.10      911.00         3.51    1,400.00       53.68    1,650.00         17.86    2,664.00       61.45
Products             $23.79)    ($21.54)       -9.46    ($32.35)       50.19     ($36.18)        11.84    ($55.87)       54.42

                   12,266.10   13,019.00        6.14   20,793.00       59.71                     20.18   26,146.00        4.63
TOTAL              ($331.52)   ($307.78)       -7.16   ($480.44)       56.10                     14.04   ($548.37)        0.09
                                                                        TABLE 3 : COUNTRYWISE EXPORTS DURING 2001-2002

                                                                                                                             CHINA REP. (TAIWAN)
                         CHINA PUBLIC REP.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       SOUTH AFRICA

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       NORTH KOREA

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     SOUTH KOREA
                                                       SAUDI ARABIA

                                                                                                                HONG KONG










                 (%)    (%)                  (%)      (%)             (%)        (%)   (%)      (%)            (%)          (%)                    (%)      (%)          (%)      (%)           (%)    (%)       (%)      (%)       (%)            (%)       (%)         (%)          (%)             (%)            (%)       (%)

Granite &
 Products         24     12                   12         -             6          5     5         5             4             4                     3         -           -         -            -       -        -         -         -              -         -           -             -              -             20       100
Marble &
 Products         6      24                   13       10               -         -      -        -             4               -                   -         -           9         -            4       -        3        2          2              -         -           -             -              -             23       100
                  58      2                   -          -              -         4     3         3              -              -                   -        6            -         -            -       -        -         -         -             5         3           3             2               -             11       100
                  11      4                   -          -             3          14    8         3              -              -                   3        4            -        24            -       -        -         -         -              -         -           -             -              3             23       100
                  22     12                   11         -             5          5     5         4             4             4                     3        3            2        2             2      2         -         -         -              -         -           -             -              -             14       100
            Table 4 : Emerging Markets of Indian Granite,
         Natural stones & Products Thereof During 2001-2002

 S.No.   Item                      Emerging Markets
   1.    Granite Cut Blocks        South Africa
   2.    Granite Slabs             Russia
         Granite Polished          Egypt, Niger, Tanzania, Ukraine, China Rep
         Slabs/Tiles               (Taiwan)
   4.    Granite Products          Nigeria, Portugal
                                   Canada, Denmark, Greece, Singapore,
   5.    Granite Monuments
                                   Bahrain, Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Israel,
   6.    Marble Blocks/Slabs       South Korea, Kuwait, Morocco, Netherlands,
                                   Russia, Switzerland, South Africa, Turkey
         Marble Polished Slabs /
   7.                              Libyan Arab Republic
   8.    Marble Monuments          Belgium
   9.    Other Stones              Czechoslovakia, Sierra Leone
Cape Verda Islands, Guyana, Pakistan, Chad, Laos, Zambia, Cuba, Libyan
Arab Republic, Zimbabwe, Czechoslovakia, Niger

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