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16 Jul 2024, Edition - 3290, Tuesday

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Three charts show how the Indian textile industry lost the race to Bangladesh and Vietnam

Covai Post Network

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Will the special package for the sector facing both external and internal pressures in a competitive market be enough to revive it?

To clothe a billion people ought to be reason by itself to ensure a thriving industry. Traditionally, India’s textile sector not only employed millions of people directly but also gave the country the lion’s share in global trade.

However, things have changed in recent years. India’s apparel industry is in tatters. Textiles mills are shutting down. New jobs aren’t being created because exports are not growing. And countries such as Bangladesh and Vietnam have convincingly left India behind in their race to the top.

This is what prompted the Narendra Modi government to unveil a special package for the sector last week. It is expected to create one crore new jobs over the next three years and bring in an additional investment of Rs 74,000 crore.

The new measures overhaul labour laws, allowing workers to do overtime of eight hours per week and provide additional subsidy for garment manufacturers to upgrade technology and expand industries.

Industry bodies and experts have hailed the initiative, calling it a “comprehensive” package that addresses the industry’s needs and hope is being expressed that India will be able to regain some of its lost competitiveness.

But, it’s still worth examining how the Indian textiles industry ended up where it is right now.

India’s textile exports declined marginally last year to $36.26 billion from $37.14 billion recorded in the year 2014-’15. In apparel, Bangladesh’s exports to the US grew by a whopping 12% in 2015 while Vietnam did even better as its exports rose by 14%. India, on the other hand, saw its exports grow just by 8%.

The presentation put out by the Indian government on the announcement of the package also acknowledged this state of affairs. The Ministry of Textiles said that Bangladesh and Vietnam have surpassed India’s apparel exports and the country is the smallest exporter among these three economies.

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