Prices of Chinese construction materials exported to India have risen 10 percent to 20 percent since the end of 2016, reflecting China's tougher environmental protection inspections, companies said Monday.
The comment came after Indian media reports said that the nation's refractory industry is seeking government help in finding alternative sources of raw materials imported from China, affected by rising import prices caused by China's environmental norm changes.
Refractory materials are usually non-metallic items that are resistant to high temperatures, and they are used to line furnaces, kilns, incinerators and reactors.
India's refractory industry, which accounts for 10 percent of the global total, relies on China for raw materials such as magnesia, The Times of India reported Sunday, citing the Indian Refractory Makers Association (IRMA). It said that China has the largest deposits of the material.
The IRMA didn't immediately comment when contacted by the Global Times on Monday.
The price of common fire-proof plates sold by Shenzhen Sunflower Decoration Materials Co to India has risen about 10 percent, with even larger increases for more specialized items, said Zhou Guanbin, general manager of the company's foreign trade department.
Sunflower sells building materials such as aluminum-plastic panels, stone plates and white latex. Exports to India account for about 5 percent of its business.
The price rises have been mainly caused by increased environmental protection supervision in China, Zhou told the Global Times on Monday.
"The main raw material we use is paper. Many papermaking companies in [South China's] Guangdong Province have had to close down or make major upgrades because of heavy pollution, which directly increases our costs," he said.
Zhou said it was difficult to buy paper products at the beginning of this year, even on a cash basis.
Another building material company in Linyi, East China's Shandong Province said that the price of plywood products it sold to India rose about 20 percent in recent months because of rising costs brought by Chinese governments' strict measures on tackling pollution issues.
"Many plants in our industry have shut down in Linyi. Our exports to India are also being affected, although it's difficult to say exactly how much," a sales manager of the plywood company told the Global Times on condition of anonymity.
Since the first round of central environmental protection inspections in China in July 2016, provinces have undergone a series of inspections in a bid to protect the environment and boost green development, according to a statement on the website of the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
At the end of July, the capacity utilization ratio of China's magnesia companies was about 54 percent, with small companies being driven out of the market, according to a Friday report on the website of Meishen Technology Co, a manufacturer of magnesium products based in North China's Hebei Province.
Behind Indian companies' call for the government to research alternative materials is the country's reliance on Chinese construction materials such as ceramics and plates, according to industry experts.
"Ceramics account for a large proportion of China's building material exports to India. Compared with items from the US, Europe and Japan, China's ceramics are cheaper and better suit India's needs," said Qin Zhanxue, deputy chairman of the China Building Materials Circulation Association.
"Although Indians may boycott Chinese products, it's meaningless for them to resist using construction materials from China, as reasonable businessmen will not put their profits at risk," Qin told the Global Times on Monday.
Groups of Indian businessmen come to Guangdong to buy ceramic tiles and plates every month, Zhou from Sunflower said, noting that his company just got an order from an Indian businessman to buy dozens of aluminum-plastic plates
China's ceramic tile exports to India fell in 2016, mainly due to the India's anti-dumping investigation launched in October 2015, industry news site taoci-info.com reported in May, saying that the value of unglazed tiles exported to India was $4.33 million last year, down 73.84 percent year-on-year.