Infrastructure issues are forcing world's largest camera manufacturer Canon from not setting up its manufacturing unit in India where the market for its products is growing at a rapid pace. As a result, India is not only missing out on crucial foreign investment and job creation but also as manufacturing and export hub for Canon's products.

“For setting up a plant we need proper supply of water and electricity…these are our major concerns. We need to do a proper study and evaluation before finalising our plans to set up a plant in India. We are studying the possibility of setting up a plant in India…but we have no immediate plans,” Canon Inc. Managing Director and Chief Executive (Image Communication Products Operations) Masaya Maeda told this correspondent.

Stating that the Japanese firm has so far not made an official contact with the Indian Government on these issues, Mr. Maeda said they would also need “favourable tax breaks” and other support from the government before they decide to set up a plant in India. “If the government addresses all these issues, we will consider India as a manufacturing base,” he said. Mr. Maeda, however, pointed out that Canon had a few Indian engineers for software development at its research and development (R&D) centre located at its headquarters in the Japanese capital.

The issues related to supply of water and power are big areas of concern for Canon as the highly-specialised camera manufacturing requires adequate supply of clean water and uninterrupted power supply. A visit to Canon's plant at Oita, located in southern Japan, explains why India needs to address these crucial issues to help camera makers set up base in India.

As camera production demands dust-free environment because even the smallest of contaminants can harm optical components and electronic chips, Canon has literally cut off the camera manufacturing line from the outside environment, while extra care has been taken in designing the air conditioning system that allows air to circulate inside the plant sans any dust particles. Similarly, water is fully-recycled to be used again and is never wasted during the manufacturing process.

Apart from its plants in Japan, Canon has 13 manufacturing subsidiaries in Asia in China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. Notably, last year, Canon announced plans to invest $1 billion to set up two manufacturing plants in Taiwan, a destination used for exports to various countries, including India. These countries address issues related to costing, component manufacturing and tax incentives that help Canon price its products competitively in the global markets.

India is one of the world's fastest growing markets for both compact and SLR cameras. According to Canon India Senior Vice-President Alok Bharadwaj, “While the SLR camera market has been growing at over 70 per cent for the past few years, the growth of compact cameras has been 40 per cent.”

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