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Desk | September 2019

Suspended Animation

Cassandras spelling doom of the industry, especially the textile industry seem to have multiplied these days. ITMA Barcelona has come and gone. Industry is awaiting with unabated breath for the outcome of the the initial show of interest from prospective buyers to the displayed technologies.

A leading consultancy company whined about complete drying up of contracts in June and July, the first time it is happening for them. The India Head of a German firm, talking about global sentiments in the industry, spoke to the effect that the market is in ‘suspended animation’. Industry talks most of the time focus on two issues: the continuously battered world economy and the China-US war cries. One should also understand that when giants fight, there are crumbs of comfort from unexpected quarters for the lesser important players. According to an Indian Texpreneurs Federation report, the biggest gainer in the apparel exports to the US is Bangladesh, with a gain of 14.49 per cent in the first six months of 2019. Vietnam follows next with a growth of 11.74 per cent. And not very surprisingly, India is the fifth biggest gainer with 10.43 per cent growth. Globally, China’s growth in apparel has fallen flat and nearly minus 7 per cent in non-apparel segments. With the recent 10 per cent tariff on apparels, China’s share is expected to dip further in the second half of 2019. This should gladden the heart of Indian apparel industry.

The industry should convert the competitor's conditions to their own advantage. The US market is crucial to Indian garment exporters. Vietnam today has touched almost 54 per cent share of China’s market for apparels. Cambodia is waiting in the wings as the next big winner. Looking at the non-apparel field, China seems to be almost vacating it totally, but India has hardly made 6 per cent growth. Vietnam and Korea are making hay while the sun shines. The good news is that in fabric exports India has gained 16 per cent while it is a negative growth of 19 per cent for China. Three issues need attention at this juncture for India: Product diversification, fibre neutral policy and a major shift towards man-made fibres and blended products. More such steps may get us out of the state of ‘suspended animation’.

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