The Tirupur Exporters Association (TEA) has welcomed changes to custom duties that are expected to improve the competitiveness of the region’s knitwear manufacturers. The changes, announced this month, will see an increase in basic customs duty from 10 to 20 per cent for the import of 23 knitted garment items and also one knitted fabric item. Imports of textile products from China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Cambodia and Sri Lanka have been increasing steadily over the last five years with the latest figures showing a compounded annual growth rate of 17 per cent since 2013. Figures also show that imports of readymade garments increased from Rs. 3,994 cr in 2016-17 to Rs. 4,983 cr in 2017-18.
According to TEA president Raja M Shanmugham, there has also been a growing trend of leading retail stores in India importing garments from Bangladesh and other countries as a cheaper option. “Considering the vulnerability of the Indian textile industry and serious threat to employment, TEA had been continuously making representations to the Government and emphasising the threat during personal discussions with Ministers and secretaries and appealing to restrict the textile products imports,” he said. “A white paper was also submitted to the Union Textiles Minister detailing the issue and how the threat had emerged from China by setting up their factories on border countries to take advantages of abundant availability of labour, low wages and also customs duty exemption available to these countries in the EU and Canada.”