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INDIA

India apparel industry seeks essential services status and carry on exporting

Photo by ARUN SANKAR/AFP via Getty Images

By: Shilpa Sharma

May 26, 2021

INDIA’ S Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC), an industry body, said it wants to be classed as essential services and therefore be allowed to carry on exporting as cities across India are in lockdown.

“We request the Central government should issue necessary instructions to all the state governments to declare apparel exports as essential services and exempt them from shutdown,” AEPC chairman A Sakthivel said in a letter to prime minister Narendra Modi.

Unlike last year, India has refrained from imposing a nationwide lockdown to control the spread of the coronavirus, but many state governments have announced stringent curbs that restrict the movement of people and economic activities.

Sakthivel said apparel exports should be seen as essential services.

Many neighbouring and competing countries have allowed apparel exports to take place by granting them the status of essential services.

“Export orders from the US and Europe have revived, but now the Indian apparel exporters face the danger of losing these two competing countries as the second wave of Covid-19 crisis has resulted in lockdowns in several states,” he added.

If export units are unable to execute these orders, it will cause not only short-term loss of orders and export earnings, but also a long-term loss for the buyers, the chairman claimed.

“Bangladesh, Vietnam, Cambodia and Pakistan are making all efforts to take orders from these regions and if we lose our buyers at this point, they will not come back in the near future,” Sakthivel added.

He asked export units to persuade their clients not to cancel their orders as he believes manufacturing in India will bounce back by mid-June.

Though the apparel industry is not looking at mass cancellations, like it happened in 2020, certain products will not be able to ship, the council said.

The apparel industry in India engages about 13 million direct workers.

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