Exports to the US, the single biggest market for Indian garments, amounted to 311.8 million pieces valued at $1,589.6 million.

G. Srinivasan

New Delhi, Jan. 17

AFTER a relatively tepid performance during 2003, readymade garment exports during the first three-quarters of the current fiscal notched up a buoyant trend in the run-up to the phase-out of the quota regime exemplified by the multi-fibre arrangement (MFA) which was terminated on December 31, 2004.

Figures compiled by the Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) reveal that exports of readymade garments to restricted countries during April-December 2004 amounted to 846.9 million pieces valued at $3,609.6 million, representing an increase of 8.38 per cent in terms of volume but 14.21 per cent in terms of value, when compared to the corresponding months in 2003.

Exports to the US, the single biggest market for Indian garments, amounted to 311.8 million pieces valued at $1,589.6 million, representing an increase of 15.10 per cent in terms of volume and 13.60 per cent in terms of value, when compared to April-December 2003.

Exports to the 25-member European Union (EU) during the period under review shot up by 6 per cent in volume terms but a robust 16.28 per cent in terms of value as they amounted to 499.5 million pieces at $1,901.8 million compared to the corresponding months in 2003.

Exports to Canada during April to December 2004 amounted to 35.6 million pieces valued at $118.2 million, showing a decrease of 7.77 per cent in terms of volume and 5.97 per cent in terms of value, when compared to April-December 2003. Garment industry sources told Business Line here that the Government has improved the policy environment through technology upgradation fund scheme, cut in customs duties for imported machinery, rationalisation of domestic duties, de-reservation of woven garments and permitting 100 per cent FDI through the automatic route. But, the sources said, more needs to be done through fiscal measures and they are confident that the forthcoming Union Budget would set right the anomaly of duty structure for man-made textile industry, even as the natural fibre user industries such as cotton are exempt from the Central value-added tax.

However, the sources point out that there should be lowering of import duty of cotton from 10 per cent to five per cent which would help in stemming the escalating input costs to industry which source cotton as raw material for finished products.

Meanwhile, sources in the AEPC said that the council proposes to set up nine more apparel training and design centre to upgrade the technical skills of personnel employed in the industry. This is particularly important now in the post-quota regime when the industry needs trained manpower to upgrade its production system to churn out designer dress to discerning customers abroad.

The first of the nine ATDC centre was flagged off by the Secretary (Textiles) in Gurgaon (Haryana) on January 12 and more such centres at Noida, Ludhiana, Tirupur, Thiruvananthapuram, Surat, Navi Mumbai, Bhubaneshwar and Kanpur would start functioning in a couple of months, the sources added.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 18, 2005)
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