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Newsline-National | April 2015

India´s per capita fibre demand bounces back

The latest ´Textile Pipeline´ from PCI Fibres offers in 11 pages a highly focused review in the form of text, charts and tables of the Indian textiles economy; an economy which has been experiencing relatively disappointing growth among its local consumers; that is, until 2014. Following a bounce-back in per capita fibre demand of nearly 10 per cent in 2009, growth then slowed year by year down to just 2 per cent in 2013, coming back strongly in 2014 by nearly 8 per cent.

The prospects however for 2015 and the mid-term are for more modest growth, at no more than 4 per cent per annum at best. The position in the export trade is more promising, especially in cotton merchandise. The Indian rupee has been depreciating quite considerably versus the Chinese Yuan (RMB) since 2011. And even against a typical competitor such as Indonesia, India had a distinct advantage through 2011-14, although the latest position shows some return to the relativities of 2010.

The message from India is for more inward investment so that the country can realize its textiles potential. But measures for ´ease of doing business´ show that India has much to do. According to such measures India is outscored by a number of its competitors including China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Even so, through 2005-18 textile activity in India, across all fibre types, is reckoned to be growing at 5.5 per cent per annum, in manmade fibres at nearly 7 per cent. Some 65 per cent of this activity is estimated to be directed towards apparel, with 28 per cent for home textiles and floor coverings. Cotton has 55 per cent of the market and features strongly in the export of household goods.

Polyester in its various forms is about 38 per cent of textile mill consumption; noting that 2014 saw an estimated 4.4 million tons of polyester filament and staple produced in India, of which 19 per cent was exported. India is not short of polyester supply, but needs more local demand. It needs a more development-minded polyester industry. While apparel is by far the largest domestic market for polyester in India, much has been made of the development of technical textiles. It is all a matter of definition. According to PCI Fibres, technical textiles in India currently amount to some 7 per cent of mill consumption. This figure, according to established usage in the fibres industry worldwide, is defined by the type of fibre employed, particularly in high tenacity nylon, polyester and polypropylene, with the occasional use of what might best be described as exotic fibres such as the aramids.

It is simply not helpful to define technical textiles in the widest possible way by final application. It does not help the development of new polyester fibres if such loose terms as ´Sportech´ and ´Meditech´ are employed to describe what can be standard fibres in standard fabric constructions. It is of far more help to state things as they are; in a small and focused way; the aim of the new ´Textile Pipeline´ review.

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