India’s 46% of the garment export happens from Tiruppur. Despite tough competition from nations like Bangladesh, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, the Indian product thrives only on the key factor- quality in all forms. Ahill S Rathinasamy, President of the Knit Cloth Manufacturers Association(KNITcMA), one of the oldest association in the country speaks to Textile Value Chain on the trends, challenges and opportunities in the industry. Edited excerpts.
What are the ways KNITcMA represents the industry?
We are one of the vibrant associations at Tirupur for close to 50 years. The association is representing the hosiery industry through close to 450 business owners in and around the region. We had actively worked for its developments and representing to remove the bottleneck problems as and when arise in the industry. Our representations had been successful in regional/local, state-level and central level. We also have good connect with the other textile forums across India.
How do you see the GST and its impact to the garments industry?
Personally, I feel it is too early to comment on that. We might need minimum two more years to come to any conclusion. It might also end up like a labor pain for women which might be temporary pain for permanent happiness. However, we are in the opinion that when we mean ‘One-Country One-Tax’ it should be implemented at ground level. Alcohol, high-end cars and fuel need not have special treatment.
Your association has been vocal on the need for reconditioning center? What is the importance for it?
We [unit owners] had invested heavily in our machinery. There are different life-cycles for different machines. In course of time, the performance of the machines reduces. If there is an option for reconditioning our machines, the performance of the machines can be enhanced. If performance increase, the direct impact will be increase in the production and cost-saving option for the business owners. However, some of the indirect benefits can range from repayment of loans, competing with other countries, additional employment and business opportunities and more. In fact, I am on the strong opinion that having two reconditioning centers in Tiruppur for South India and Amristar for rest of India will impact the Indian economy provided that Textiles is the second largest employment generator.
Have you addressed this issue?
The concern has been raised with all the ministries. While the machines are becoming smarter, the rates are also equally becoming high. Considering repetitive investments towards machines , the manufacturers are not ready to set-up their own reconditioning centers. We feel that the Central Government should address this issue. We tried addressing this issue with various ministers. However, no one is ready to give a patient hearing for us in this particular issue. The understanding should come at both bureaucratically and ministerial levels.
What are the other concerns you have?
I can take this at two levels. Garment business has two aspects- export and domestic.
As far as the export business is concerned, India have to seriously look at our trade policies in terms of export. Free trade agreement has not been done with key markets in Europe. Besides this, there are plenty of soaps our counter-parting competition in Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and China are getting from their governments. A trend is coming where the import of garments from India is decreasing and from other countries is increasing. This has to change. There are countries who import only a certain percentage from India, only as a back-up. There might be political uncertainty and other factors that might stop their business. There are some subsidies which has been launched recently. However, they are not reaching ground level. If you ask me how Indian products are thriving even today is only because of the quality which others cannot provide.
On the domestic part, chances are high that cheap products from China, Vietnam and other places might enter India. Should that happen, it will kill home-grown business man. We will not be able to compete in terms of price with China. Within India, with the population is growing and knitwear is widely used, there is a wide opportunity inside India too.