New Delhi: Apparel exporters today sought expeditious finalisation of the India-EU Free Trade Agreement to enable better market access for Indian exporters whose total outbound shipments stood at USD 15.7 billion last year.
"India's clothing exports to the FTA countries have increased significantly after signing of the FTA/PTA (Preferential Trade) agreements.
"These markets accounted for 12 per cent share of India's clothing exports and around 58 per cent (of USD 475 mn in 2013) share in the country's global clothing import", Apparel Exports Promotion Council (AEPC) Chairman Virender Uppal said.
"We recommend the government to expedite the process of India-EU FTA finalisation, as this will help exporters to have better market access, that is already enjoyed by India's competitors like Bangladesh, Vietnam and Cambodia," Uppal said in the presence of Textiles Minister Santosh Gangwar.
Gangwar, who was here to inaugurate the India International Garment Fair said the Modi-led government attaches great importance to the textile sector which is evident from the Budgetary announcements.
"This fair will provide the much-needed opportunity to source garments from India. The whole world is looking at us with hope. This sector, which yields rich dividend in terms of forex export earnings and huge employment potential, has received attention at the highest level," Gangwar said.
"The apparel sector, being the highest employment provider after agriculture, especially for women and the other weaker section of society, has a much bigger role and responsibility to play," he added.
India International Garment Fair is India's largest garment show in South Asia, covering Apparel and Fashion Accessories. The fair, being held at Pragati Maidan, has attracted 416 buyers from across the world.
Referring to the recent budget announcements related to the textile sector, the Minister said Prime Minister Narendra Modi attaches huge importance to the sector.
Gangwar further mentioned that textile sector has found importance in the budget and thanked the Prime Minister for the announcements.
India exported clothing worth USD 2 billion to the countries or blocks with which it has inked FTAs and PTAs, out of the country's total apparel exports of USD 15.7 bn in 2013.
India also imported around USD 275 mn worth of apparel with which it has FTAs and PTAs, out of total USD 475 mn imports in 2013,making them a growing trade partner of India.
Global apparel exports are estimated at USD 428 billion, out of which Indian exports stood at a mere USD 15.7 billion as against China's USD 165 billion in value terms. Similarly, Bangladesh exports apparel worth USD 26.2 billion.
"The high labour cost in China and the problem related to compliance in countries like Bangladesh are beginning to bite them, and the need of the hour is to seize the opportunity.
"India is now number two in Textiles exports despite various constraints. If there is a policy push to increase the duty drawback, facilitate the imports and provide employment generation based tax credit/incentives, we could scale new heights in a very short period," Uppal added.
First Published: Monday, July 14, 2014, 15:18