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ITJ’s e-conference discusses industry’s growth map

Feb 18, 2021
ITJ’s e-conference discusses industry’s growth map

The Indian Textile Journal hosted “Textile Business E-Conference” on 17th February 2021 with an aim to provide a platform to all stakeholders to exchange ideas, collaborate and draw the roadmap for the future. The E-Conference - comprised two panel discussions and was addressed by key industry leaders who provided an insight into the Indian textile industry.

The first panel discussion titled, “Reinvigorating Indian textile industry to be a global hub”, was moderated by  Prashant Agarwal, Co-founder & Joint Managing Director of Wazir Advisors. The speakers at the discussion included head honchos of the textile industry namely Ashok Juneja, President, Textile Association of India, Gurudas Aras, Director, A.T.E Enterprises, Dr Jairam Varadaraj, MD, Elgi Equipments Ltd, and Rahul Mehta, Chief Mentor, Clothing Manufacturers Association of India.

The first panel discussion focussed on topics like India’s standing in the global textile industry, capitalising on supply chain disruptions, new challenges & opportunities in the post-COVID era, can China’s loss be India’s gain, and suggestion to make the Indian textile industry a global textile hub.

In the beginning of the discussion Prashant Agarwal said, “India’s exports have been stagnant for the last 4-5 years to about 38 billion dollars. The domestic market in India is growing and the availability of manpower can strengthen India’s position in the global textile hub. However, India is missing the bus. Countries like Bangladesh and Vietnam have taken over and are riding the bus. Bangladesh’s exports account to 40 billion dollars, Cambodia’s exports account to 15 billion dollars and Vietnam’s exports have reached 38 billion dollars.”

Agarwal then touch upon the topic of Union Budget 2021 and asked the panellists to share their thoughts on the hits and miss about the budget. Responding to which Rahul Mehta said, “The hits of the budget are the two schemes – PLI & Textile Mega Park that were announced. If the execution and the fine prints of these two schemes live up to the expectations these can be game-changers for the Indian textile industry especially for the apparel sector. The government has hit the head of the nail by addressing the biggest weaknesses with the Budget 2021 for the apparel export sector. However, it is the execution that will determine if the goals that have been setup are achieved or not. The miss is the 10 per cent import duty levied on cotton. ”

Ashok Juneja, said, “The focus of the budget is to improve the competitiveness of the textile industry. There is not much to criticise the budget. A lot of promises are made to the demands from the industry. The budget however does not address the textile engineering industry, which is not as big as the apparel industry but accounts to Rs 15,000 cr. We import over 50 per cent of the textile machines. The government hasn’t done much to boost the textile engineering sector. If this industry is taken care of, we can be self-dependant and even be a big exporter of machines and spare parts supplier hub. Another area that needs grave attention is waste water management, which has not been touched upon.”

In the second league of the first panel discussion moderator Prashant Agarwal asked the speakers where or which areas is India lagging behind. Commenting on the topic, Gurudas Aras, said “India holds a strong ground when it comes to spinning, with a 25 per cent market share. But India misses the bus in value addition after the production of yarn. The technologies are not state of the art. The real value addition happens in finishing where India misses the bus completely. The finishing plants in Bangladesh are better than India. Hence Bangladesh is stronger in providing finished in knits and denims, which makes it difficult for India to beat. Similarly weaving is another sector where we are losing since 70 per cent of our production comes from power looms, making it difficult to compete globally. China became a successful player in the industry because of its domestic machinery manufacturing. We can also gain immensely if we manufacture textile machinery in-house.”

“Trillion dollars is the size of the global textile market and India is about 100 billion dollars. So there is a lot opportunity. You need to have a fundamental aspiration to build a global business. The architecture of a global business is very different from a domestic one. There are limitations and challenges. It is a constraint of aspiration more than it is a constraint of resources. There is a lot of similarity between the textile industry and the IT industry. Both of them are price play. We are looking at selling products that are cheap. Then why is it that the IT industry has succeeded but textile hasn’t. To build a competitive industry you need a larger game plan. If you are able to architecture the financial intermediation with strategic intent to grow the business globally it is possible to do so. The government does play an important role but it is unnecessary to play the victim’s role. There are opportunities to imagine and architect a business in textiles which global in scale. This will help us move up in the value chain and integrate forward.”

Navdeep Singh Sodhi, Senior Partner, Gherzi Textil Organisation, Switzerland, was the key note speaker at the event and spoke on “Opportunities for India in the global textile market in 2021 & beyond.” Sodhi provided valuable insights on the below five key trends across the textile value chain which are witnessing paradigm shift:

·        Global T&C industry undergoing an accelerated restructuring

·        International buyers keen to diversify sourcing

·        Emergence of “China+N” alternatives

·        Digitisation & sustainability to have major impact on the industry

·        Evolution of new business models and opportunities for the Indian textile industries

The second panel discussion titled, “Can India take the lead in MMF and Technical Textile?” was moderated by Avinash Mayekar, CEO, Suvin Advisors. The speakers included industry veterans like Anjani Prasad, MD, Archroma India, Anup Rakshit, Executive Director, Indian Technical Textile Association (ITTA), Avinash Mane, Commercial Head, South Asia, Lenzing, Dr Manisha Mathur, Joint Director, The Synthetic & Art Silk Mills Research Association (SAMIRA), and Ronak Rughani, Chairman, The Synthetic & Rayon Textiles Export Promotion Council (SRTEPC).

Avinash Mayekar in his initial comment said, “As compared to its counterparts, India’s value chain for technical textiles is far behind. The reasons being unlike Bangladesh, India does not enjoy any Free Trade Agreements and duty disadvantages of raw materials for this sector. ”

The global pandemic came as a blessing to the Indian technical textile industry. Deliberating on the topic, Anup Rakshit said, “Before the pandemic, India produced couple of thousands of personal protective equipment (PPE) pieces per day which in a matter of three months escalated to 5 lakh pieces per day. This shows the tenacity of the industry. The basic raw material was produced by Indian technical textile manufacturers and many apparel manufacturers who were waiting to resume business, started manufacturing PPE kits.”

Speaking about the MMF industry, Ronak Rughani, said, “the MMF industry in India is one of the largest in the world with a large material base and manufacturing strength across the entire value chain. India is the 2nd largest producer of MMF in the world i.e. polyester and viscose fibres with the presence of large plants with state of the art technologies. India is self-sufficient in producing MMF varieties like nylon, acrylic and propylene. The domestic industry comprises of polyester and viscose, which together account to 94 per cent of production in terms of volume.

Dr Manisha Mathur disagreed that the pandemic has bought the technical textile industry in India, she said, “Technical textile is not new to India. However, the research and development has been slow in comparison to its neighbouring countries. There is a lot of development in terms of research as far as raw materials, new product or machinery are concerned. Ever since the manufacturing of agro textile has increased in India, smart shade nets, water shade nets, solar shade nets have been developed. These developments are on prototypes, it is for the industry to come forward and take the lead in development of such products. Work is being done but at a miniscule level. The ministry needs to allocate more funds for research and development.

Avinash Mane, touched upon the topic of sustainability in the panel two discussions and said, “COVID brought the hygiene component and sustainability to light in the industry. We have seen a clear effect of this in the last two quarters as global and domestic markets start opening. We are seeing sustainability being addressed in terms of raw material, supply chain, and post consumption. A lot retailers and brands are now moving away from cotton. We are unable to meet demands for our sustainable viscose and we have already announced zero carbon cellulosic fibres.”

Anjani Prasad, said, “There is a lot wood required not just for viscose but also for the packaging industry. Hence recycling becomes extremely important. The chemical companies are also working towards it. The issue with cotton waste is segregating it. It can be converted into viscose by stripping, desolution, and regeneration. We are trying to work out the best possible ways of processing MMF especially for blends. There is a huge demand for MMF as the prices of cotton are going up. India is far behind in terms of quality provided by its counterparts like Korea and Taiwan.

Pratap Padode, Editor of ITJ, Founder & President, FIRST Construction Council, unveiled the ITJ Annual 2021 featuring India’s Top 50 Textile Companies.

Ajit B Chavan, Secretary and CEO, Textiles Committee, Ministry of Textiles, Government of India was the chief guest.  In his speech at the virtual e-conference, Chavan said, “We have seen closely how policies can change the whole scenario. The government & industry partnership and policies can bring about great growth stories. India’s textile and apparel exports stand at 35 billion dollars for 2019-20, we have been witnessing a downside. The global textile and apparel sector in the last two decades has seen a good amount of growth from 360 billion dollars in 2001 to 837 billion dollars. The long term trend seems positive.”