India is now the elephant in the room
Frik Els | September 18, 2011
New economic numbers from India, the latest forecasts for the country’s voracious appetite for gold, iron ore and in particular coal and its plans for a sovereign wealth fund to look at mining deals abroad mean that the GVK-Rinehart tie-up could be the first of many.
The India Planning Commission recently released its preliminary forecasts for the country’s 12th five-year plan from 2012 – 2017 and The Economic Times quotes Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission as saying India’s economy is expected to grow 7.5% – 8% over the next five years even if “we just carry on doing a little bit of progress at the pace we have managed at the last few years.” The official Indian government target is 9%.
The Financial Express reported the Planning Commission last week proposed that India should set up a sovereign wealth fund with an initial corpus of $10 billion, mainly to invest in energy and mining assets abroad.
The Planning Commission forecasts India’s coal demand to go up to 1,000 million tonnes by 2017, necessitating over 200 million tonnes of imports: “The domestic output is unlikely to exceed 750 million tonne leaving more than 200 million tonne shortfall to be met from imports. Even this assumes that the domestic output will be able to increase by over 200 million tonne from current levels.” The Planning Commission said the demand for coal rose by about 8% a year during the 11th plan.
India’s steel demand is likely to jump by over 70% to 113 million tonnes by 2017 after growing by 36 million tonnes per year, with the infrastructure sector projected to witness investments worth $1 trillion. India’s total steel demand stood at 65.61 million tonnes during the last fiscal year.
Last month the World Gold Council said despite a higher gold price, Indian demand grew 38% during Q2 2011 compared to the same period of 2010. This growth is likely to continue, due to increasing levels of economic prosperity, high levels of inflation and forthcoming key gold purchasing festivals.
The Economist reported on China and India’s “contest of the century” this way: As recently as the early 1990s, India was as rich, in terms of national income per head. China then hurtled so far ahead that it seemed India could never catch up. But India’s long-term prospects now look stronger. While China is about to see its working-age population shrink, India is enjoying the sort of bulge in manpower which brought sustained booms elsewhere in Asia. It is no longer inconceivable that its growth could outpace China’s for a considerable time.