By Frank Esposito, UT Akron BureauNew Delhi-Dow Chemical Co. has a busy agenda in India, where it plans to open a research and development centre as well as start a polyurethanes blending site.Dow has not determined the R&D location, but William Banholzer, chief technology officer, said it will be a major site" focusing on product and process R&D, and application development. No timetable has been set for its launch.The PU blending facility will open near Mumbai, India, early next year, with as many as six production lines and 15 employees. It will create products mainly for the automotive and appliance industries, according to Vipul Shah, chief executive officer of South Asia for Dow Chemical International Pvt. Ltd of Mumbai.In the past four years, Dow's sales in India have increased 300 percent, yet the market isn't close to maturing," Shah said at Plastindia 2006, held 9-14 Feb in New Dehli.Dow's South Asia region-composed of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal-had sales of almost $400 million in 2005. Dow officials expect that total to hit $1000 million by 2010, with 40 percent coming from plastics. Based on demand, India will need four or five world-scale [ethylene] crackers by 2015," Shah said. But a lot of global polyethylene producers can't compete with domestic companies because of tariffs and other economic reasons. So if you're an outside producer, you need to look at value-added formulations."When Midland, Michigan-based Dow started selling PE into India in the late 1980s, the tariff rate was 250 percent. It‚s now down to 10 percent, with multinational firms hoping that it falls even lower. Packaging is developing in various stages," Shah added. And the auto industry is growing at double-digit rates."Dow's PU products are landing in auto uses such as seating, where they offer noise vibration reduction."