Exhibitors from 23 countries, including the US for the first time, will participate in the Jan 20-26 Indian metal-cutting machine tool exhibition (Imtex 2011) here, the largest trade fair in South Asia.

The fair will showcase the range of innovations and technological refinements in the product segment from the world over.

Organized by the Indian Machine Tool Manufacturers' Association (IMTMA), it will feature about 800 exhibitors and 750 machines valued at Rs.1,400 crore (over $300 million) at the Bangalore International Exhibition Centre (BIEC) on the outskirts of the city.

Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma will unveil the week-long mega event.

'Momentum of Indian machine tool industry is back. New sectors such as aerospace, healthcare and energy have helped the industry focus on high-end technology and innovation,' IMTMA chairman Shailesh Sheth told IANS here.

Delegations from the Automotive Components Manufacturers Association, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers, Ordinance Factories, Indian Railways, Tractor Manufacturers Association and state-run Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd will evaluate the latest trends in cutting tools and tooling systems.

'The machine tool industry is recovering from the impact of the global downturn during the two previous fiscal years. We have drawn a long-term strategy to grow by ten-fold during this decade with a proactive policy intervention by the government and other stakeholders,' association past president C.P. Rangachar said.

With a view to develop machine tool technology and raise production to reduce import dependence, counter technology denials and provide manufacturing competitiveness, the association recently presented a vision document and perspective plan for 2010-2020 to the central ministry of heavy industries and public enterprises.

'We have asked the government to grant Rs.2,000 crore towards technology development through innovation, development of skill sets and capacity expansion. The industry will contribute an equivalent amount (Rs.2,000 crore) for the joint initiative,' Sheth recalled.

The association has also suggested the government to re-constitute the development council of machine tools and recommended a slew of measures for strengthening partnership between the industry, the state and other stakeholders.

'Our target is to secure a domestic market share of 50 percent in the next five years and 67 percent by 2020 from 30 percent currently, with imports accounting for 70 percent of the demand,' Rangachar pointed out.

After posting a record production valued at Rs.1,902 crore, with imports at Rs.5,992 crore and consumption Rs.7,747 crore during fiscal 2007-08, the machine tool industry performance declined in terms of production value to Rs.1,425 crore in recession-hit 2008-09, with imports increasing to Rs.6,271 crore and consumption to Rs.7,606 crore.

During the last fiscal (2009-10), domestic production value, however, increased to Rs.1,652 crore, while import value and consumption declined to Rs.4,852 crore and Rs.6,413 crore, respectively.

Coinciding with the expo, a two-day international seminar on machining technologies will be held Jan 18-19, focusing on evolving trends in the industry the world over.

Experts from Britain, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland and the US will share their experience and latest developments in the field spanning auto components, aerospace, new generation machine tools, electrical and micro machining, die and mould machining, tooling, coolants, control systems and measurements and automation.

The association is expecting about 100,000 visitors at the expo, confirmed orders for Rs.700 crore and business enquiries to the tune of Rs.7,000 crore during the annual event.

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