Tiruppur exporters' hope to grab new opportunities

Tiruppur exporters' hope to grab new opportunities

Representative image. Credit: AFP Photo

Notwithstanding loss of work for nearly two months and partial cancellation of orders when Covid-19 struck the key markets of US and EU, the multi-crore knitwear industry in Tiruppur is on the course to recovery by clocking over Rs 14,000 crore in exports in the first eight months of this fiscal.

Manufacturers in Tiruppur have exported apparels worth Rs 14,150 crore from April-November 2020, which is just Rs 3,000 crore less than what they achieved during the same period in the 2019-2020 financial year. Covid-19 lockdown in India and in the key markets did affect production and orders for the industry, but “trial test” by some firms to move out of China has resulted in growth for the knitwear cluster in Tiruppur.

Production came to a grinding halt in the last week of March and it continued till the first few weeks of May, except for units that took to manufacturing personal protective equipment (PPEs) and face masks. Though production began in May, the industry is still hit by labour shortage, exporters say.

Exporters' in Tiruppur hope the total exports from the city this 2020-2021 financial year will hit Rs 24,000 crore with four more months to go. The fiscal began on a sad note with exports locking just Rs 76 crore in the month of April, which increased ten fold to Rs 790 crore in May, and the highest so far was in the month of September when the value of apparel exports from Tiruppur stood at 2,440 crore.

In the 2019-2020 fiscal, the exports figure stood at Rs 27,280 crore, a slight dip from Rs 27,650 crore in 2018-2019 fiscal. In the first eight months of the current fiscal, Tiruppur accounted for 51 percent share of India's total exports in the apparel sector. Besides the anti-Chinese sentiments, new orders from several key players in the US and EU markets to update their portfolios also led to early recovery of the industry.

“This is the right time to grab global opportunities as the anti-China sentiments among international buyers are visible. Though the figures are encouraging and give much-needed confidence to exporters, countries like Vietnam, Cambodia, and Bangladesh still being the preferred destination for companies that move out of China is still a cause of concern for us,” Raja M Shanmugham, President, Tiruppur Exporters' Association (TEA), told DH.

He said exporters' in Tiruppur should “resolve” internal issues like removing inconsistency in quality and quantity, and non-timely delivery of finished goods to grab opportunities that move out of China. “If self-correction happens fast, Tiruppur can become the no.1 hub for international apparel buyers. Once this happens, we can ask the government here to support us further in terms of policy,” Shanmugham added.

A leading exporter told DH that Covid-19 and anti-China sentiments have given a new lease of life to the industry which suffered due to demonetization, GST and other issues in the international market. “The industry is on the path to recovery. We never expected the recovery to be so fast. We just hope that it is maintained and there is no further lockdown in any country,” he said.