Growing sentiment against Imports from China, a blessing in disguise for Indian garment industry
28 June 2020: In a circular to all its members, Rahul Mehta, Chief Mentor of the Clothing Manufacturers Association Of India (CMAI), headquartered in Mumbai, said that there is a growing sentiment against Imports from China in recent times, both at the Consumer as well as the Trade level. “As an Industry, CMAI believes this presents us with an opportunity to try and enter into Segments/Product Categories till now dominated by Imports.”
In the case of Apparels, the Imports are not hugely significant – below US$400 Million as of last year. Most of these are in Categories which are being manufactured in India, but not necessarily on the scale or at price points required. CMAI has compiled a comprehensive list of those Apparel Categories which are currently being Imported from China, the circular stated.
“The Indian Entrepreneurial skill in seizing opportunities is well known – the latest example being the Textile Industry’s phenomenal growth in the Personal Protective Equipment category. If we can move from Zero to the 2nd largest Manufacturer in the World in a matter of Two months, surely, we can create capacities to substitute Apparel Imports in Categories we are already Manufacturing,” Mehta mentioned in the said circular.
Meanwhile, in a memorandum to Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani, Minister of Textiles, Ministry of Textiles, signed by Rakesh Biyani, President, CMAI drew attention to the Impact of the Duty-Free Imports of Garments from Bangladesh, and with it the back-door entry of Chinese fabrics into India and its consequent impact on the MSME dominated Domestic Garment.
The Indian textile industry has been hit hard by COVID 19 that has impacted exports as well as sales of Apparel products in the Domestic market. Based on a recent study done by CMAI, it is estimated that will be more than 40% drop in domestic demand of Apparel due to the lockdown and the reduced demand as a result of COVID 19. The reduction in demand and revenue levels will lead to downsizing of operations, possible closure of units and job losses in Indian Textile & Apparel Industry.
CMAI urged the Textiles Ministry to extend such an Import Duty on imports of Garments and Fabrics from all countries. This will have great positive impact on the Domestic Industry and will result in the quick recovery of hundreds of MSMEs. Additionally this will enable the Government to collect approximately US$ 100-150 Million for its fight against Covid 19 (depending on the quantum of Duty imposed). CMAI suggested that such a measure may be undertaken only for a limited period of time of 12 months, after which we can go back to our current agreements in force.