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The Indian Textile Journal - February 2008 Viewpoint
Cheers Outstrip Fears

The appreciating rupee has undoubtedly caused turmoil for the textile exporters. But not everything is lost. The textiles sector has grown phenomenally since the phasing out of the Multi-Fibre Arrangement (MFA) in January 2005. In fact, the country's clothing and textile exports to US and EU -- about two-thirds of total exports - have grown sharply. A pack of FTAs and other trade agreements has opened a window of opportunity for the country and the West's cap on Chinese exports has given a chance to Indian exporters to boost their revenue. Besides, the advent of technical textiles has opened up new avenues. Growing consumerism and rising purchasing power has led industry experts to predict that by 2010, India's share in the world textile market would be 10%. India is one of the few countries, which produces everything from fibre to fabric to garments. There is a rapidly growing fashion industry as well. India can emerge as a major manufacturing hub for the global market if the Government works with industry to take advantage of the core competencies to ensure that the sector grows at least 15% annually in the next decade.  

But there are some irritants that stand out, when one compares India with China. For instance, manufacturing a garment in China costs 2 cents, while in India it is 8 cents. Cost of unit of electricity in China is Rs 2 or less while in India, it is over Rs 4. China puts in 70 hours of work per week, while India works for a maximum of 53 hours. The ratio of machine productivity is very much in favour of China with 23 shirts to India's 10 shirts. One can set up a plant in China at 65% of Indian costs. World market currently stands 60:40 in favour of manmade fibres, but in India, the ratio is vice-versa. High input costs, lack of skilled manpower and absence of proper labour law reforms, lack of a comprehensive fibre policy, poor coordination between Government agencies, poor industry integration, low scale and competence, near-absence of machinery manufacturing capabilities and want of will to modernise and upgrade are the woes plaguing the textile industry. Rectifying these anomalies, the Government and textile industry must work hand in hand to make a global footprint.

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