The Indian textile industry has strengths across the entire value chain from natural to man-made fiber to apparel to home furnishings. Its share in the nation’s GDP is 6% and in exports, 13%. The sector is the second-largest employer after agriculture.
After the phasing out of export quotas in 2005, India’s export performance has been below expectations. The dynamics of the market economy have thrown up both opportunities and challenges to our domestic industry. The Indian textile industry should gear up to attain its desired position in the global market. The Government is willing to provide all possible support by creating enabling frameworks. Considering the targeted growth in exports, India should be able to double its share of the global textile and apparel trade from the present level of 5%. India can achieve higher growth rates of finished products such as apparel, home furnishing, and technical textiles. This would maximize employment generation and value creation within the country and realize the Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Make in India’. Achieving the ambitious vision of exports of $ 300 billion and 20% share of global trade by 2024-25 is not going to be easy, and is unlikely with a business-as-usual approach.
An important development in the global textile trade is the fall in China’s predominance, which presents a ray of hope for India to up its market share. However, the fast emergence of new textile manufacturing hubs like Vietnam and Bangladesh can upset India’s calculations in a changing market, driven by market access and the policy support given by the respective governments to empower the textile chain. Also, emerging regional trading agreements can script a paradigm shift in future trade and investment flows.
In a dispensation where inclusive growth has been assigned supreme importance in the policy framework, the development of the textile segment in India is not only socially significant in terms of creating more employment opportunities, women empowerment and eradication of poverty and destitution, but also a harbinger of growth in terms of enhancing national income, exports, and entrepreneurship, given that some segments in the textile chain are capital-light and have less gestation period for commissioning the project.
India should aim to strengthen the textile value chain. Out of its total exports of textiles and apparel, more than 50% is contributed by textiles. The scope of value addition is higher in downstream activities like fabric processing and weaving.
India can realize the full potential emerging in the global textile market if the Government provides a long-term strategy to support the entire textile value chain. The key issues that need attention are lack of scale, lack of market access, infrastructure constraints, and high input costs, which are adversely affecting the competitive strength of the industry.
Further, India has to work towards eliminating trade barriers, and needs to take measures to expand market access. For instance, the biggest challenge that the apparel industry is facing today is the cost disadvantage across major markets. India’s competing countries have zero duty access in these markets.
The recent apparel package and key structural labor reforms are path-breaking measures. I hope that the ‘Make in India’ initiative and the robust policies unleashed by the Government will help Indian industry increase domestic investment and expand its share in the global market.
Co-Chairman, CII National Committee on Textiles,and
Joint Managing Director, Vardhman Textiles Ltd