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Apparel exports to register 40% expansion this fiscal: AEPC

·         AEPC Chairman Dr A Sakthivel addressed the members at 41st AGM

New Delhi.  : Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) Chairman Dr A Sakthivel, addressing the members at 41st Annual General Meeting of the Council, said the apparel exports from the country will expand by about 40% this fiscal.

“We are working with a target to achieve a 40% increase in apparel exports this financial year with major focus on new medical textiles. This will take our total apparel exports up from $15.4 billion last fiscal to about $22 billion in 2020-21,” Dr Sakthivel said.

Addressing the AGM through video conferencing, the Chairman said that though Covid-19 is the most disruptive health crisis in modern human history, India and the world will achieve faster progress and new quality of development post Covid as “every adversity presents multiple new opportunities”.

Congratulating Hon’ble Minister of Commerce and Industry Shri Piyush Goyal for announcing India’s readiness to sign the initial limited trade package with America, Dr Sakthivel said the trading atmosphere in the US is looking good and there are positive sentiments for engaging with India as a reliable partner in the global value chain.

The Chairman said that the Council has already requested the government for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US and this initial limited trade package could be a precursor for the much desired bilateral FTA.

Besides, the AEPC has requested the government to thoroughly review all the existing trade pacts with the EU, UK, US, Australia and Canada to remove the disadvantages. FTA with USA, UK and EU along with CEPA with Australia and Canada can help double apparel exports in three years, he said.

Dr Sakthivel thanked Hon’ble Minister of Textiles Smt Smriti Zubin Irani for taking several bold and pragmatic initiatives to help the industry. Besides urging international buyers to do ‘Commerce with Compassion’ and honour their export orders, the Hon’ble Minister facilitated the Apparel Industry’s foray into production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) making India the second largest producer of medical textiles within a short span of a few months since the outbreak of coronavirus.

While recognizing medical textiles as a new source of business for the Apparel Industry and forex earner for India, now that the government has lifted the export ban on many of the PPE items, the Chairman exhorted the members to get into Man Made Fibre (MMF) based garments in a big way going by the global demand pattern.

“The need of the hour is to quickly engage in product diversification into MMF. We plan to sign MoUs with a number of MMF manufacturers, including Reliance Industries Ltd, to improve the sector. MMF is the key to increasing India’s textile exports to the global market,” Dr Sakthivel said, stressing on the need to improve design and processing.

This would need extensive R&D into the various fibre base, technologies, processing and sample development. For facilitating R&D into these activities, the Council is setting up a dedicated R&D Centre at its head office in Apparel House, Gurugram.

The Chairman expressed his gratitude to Hon’ble MSME Minister Shri Nitin Gadkari for revising the definition of MSMEs, which increased the investment limit of medium enterprises to Rs 50 crore and turnover to Rs 250 crore. It also replaced purchase price of plant and machinery with its written down value while calculating the investment, and excluded export earnings while calculating the turnover of an MSME.

Further, the Chairman shared the Council’s plans of foraying into Virtual Trade Fairs & Exhibitions by setting up AEPC’s own virtual platform as lockdowns in many countries have impacted international trade, disrupted global value chains and restricted physical movement. The objective is to reach out to audiences across segments, irrespective of geographical boundaries and develop personalized connect with buyers. For this, it is imperative to create interactions on a B2B, B2C and B2G mode.

“This is aimed at MSMEs who would otherwise not be able to access international buyers during these trying times. We have initiated dialogues with virtual fair platform agencies,” headded.

Dr Sakthivel appreciated the dynamic leadership provided by Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi and Hon’ble Minister of Finance Smt Nirmala Sitharaman for taking decisive and timely actions to protect the Apparel Industry and the millions of workers engaged in the sector during the pandemic.

During the AGM, several member speakers congratulated Chairman Dr A Sakthivel for working tirelessly 24×7 despite the pandemic to protect the Apparel Exporters Industry with his positive attitude turning the setback into an opportunity. Members listed down many of his achievements including redefinition of MSMEs, financial relief measures for the industry, India becoming second largest medical textile producer, and also his ready to help attitude and ability to resolve issues for all exporters during their times of crises.

AEPC Vice Chairman Shri Narendra Goenka gave the vote of thanks.