Source: The Stitch Times

A double-digit decline in apparel exports from India during May, following 9.5 per cent fall in April this year may have dismayed the apparel exporters, but it did fail to evoke a response from a non-responsive Finance Minister, despite most sincere efforts made by Apparel Export Promotion Council and other trade bodies of apparel exporters to brief him on the hazards of sharp decline that seems to have set in apparel exports.

Provisional figures show that apparel worth $763 million were exported in May 2009 compared to $863 million in the same period last year, representing a decline of 11.58 per cent. This only reflected a sharper decline from April 2009 when the apparel exports touched $809 million as against $896 million in April, 2008. During 2008-09, apparel exports were 14 per cent short of $11.62 billion dollar target and leveled $10.13 billion dollars-blissfully 4 per cent higher than $9.68 billion during previous fiscal. This is despite the fact that 7 months out of 12 months of fiscal 2008-09 were free from export contraction resulting from the global economic slowdown-more appropriately recession.

The apparel exporters had legitimate reasons-and expectations-that they would get the much-needed relief from the Government on the face of continuing decline in apparel exports. There was even a greater reason and merit in their expectations in view of known and acknowledged fact that China had made six corrections in Duty Refund rates in the past one year. Rakesh Vaid, Chairman, AEPC said, "No such measure has come from our Government." He cautioned "Unless the Government takes concrete steps like China, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Cambodia and Vietnam have taken to beat the impact of recessionary trends worldwide; there could be a collateral damage to Indian garment export industry."

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Originally published in The Stitch Times; August 2009