Indian clothing manufacturers have demanded duty imposition on imported garments from Bangladesh for at least a year to help their local industry to cope with COVID-19 impact.
The Clothing Manufacturers Association of India (CMAI) on May 22 in a letter to the textile ministry made the appeal saying that Indian textile industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak that has impacted exports as well as sales of apparel products in the domestic market.
“You are aware that CMAI has for long been drawing the government’s attention to the dangers posed by the duty-free Imports of garments from Bangladesh, and with it the back-door entry of Chinese fabrics into India - and its consequent impact on the MSME dominated domestic garment industry,” CMAI president Rakesh Biyani said in the letter.
Citing a CMAI study, he said domestic demand for apparel may drop by more than 40 per cent due to the lockdown and the reduced demand as a result of the ongoing pandemic.
The reduction in demand and revenue levels will lead to downsizing of operations, possible closure of units and job losses in Indian textile and apparel industry, Biyani added.
Considering the situation, the CMAI requested for thinking of innovative ideas and policies to support the industry to survive in the immediate term.
Citing media reports, it said Indian government is considering levying an additional COVID import duty on certain products.
“We believe that this is an excellent move by the government and we urge textiles ministry to extend such an import duty on imports of garments and fabrics from all countries including those with whom they have FTAs or zero duty agreements,” the CMAI said.
This would enable the Indian government to collect about US$100 to $150 million for its fight against COVID-19.
CMAI suggested such a measure to be undertaken only for a limited period of 12 months after which they can go back to their current agreement in force.
Bangladesh’s readymade garment (RMG) exports to India stood at $365 million in fiscal year of 2018-19 which was $140 million in FY 2016-17.
In current fiscal year (FY20), Bangladesh exported RMG products worth $409 million which is 34 per cent of India’s total RMG imports, according to the letter.