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AI in weaving and stitching will increase productivity
The Cotton Textiles Export Promotion Council, popularly known as Texprocil, has been the international face of cotton textiles from India facilitating exports worldwide. With a membership of over 3,000 companies, it connects international buyers with suppliers and facilitates interaction that enables them to source their specific needs. Further, the council provides updates on international product trends, trade-related issues, advances in technology and the latest developments in the industry, as well as existing and emerging markets. Ujwal Lahoti, chairman, Texprocil, talks to Fibre2Fashion about the declining exports of cotton.
India is likely to export nearly one-fifth less cotton than previously estimated due to the pink bollworm affect. How will this impact revenues?
In the cotton year 2017-18, it was estimated that total cotton output will be higher than last year by about 9 per cent in spite of pink bollworm issue in some of the cotton producing states. Major reason for decline in export of cotton is narrowing price parity between Indian cotton and international cotton prices.
The bollworm infestation has occurred in spite of adopting Bt cotton. Given this, will it be possible for India to maintain its status as the world's second-largest exporter of the fibre?
The existing Bt cotton seed has exceeded its lifespan and the departments concerned are in the process of approving a new set of seed varieties. Hopefully, seed-related issues will be sorted out at the earliest.
How can Indian exporters beat competition from countries that have preferential duties with the EU?
The India- EU FTA negotiations are in an advanced stage, and I hope that all the pending issues are negotiated and finalised soon. In the meantime, policy support from the government in granting additional relief to the extent of tariff disadvantage in the EU will help boost our exports.
The council promotes exports of raw cotton, cotton yarns and blended yarns, woven and knitted fabrics, home textiles, technical textiles. Which category is faring well? Why?
Cotton and cotton yarn are commodity businesses and are highly sensitive to the price factor. Whenever prices of Indian cotton are lower than international prices, there is a spurt in exports. As far as cotton yarn is concerned, China continues to be the largest market for Indian exports and any decline in import from India into China results in a negative trend. The council and the exporters are vigorously undertaking marketing efforts in other unexplored markets. Regarding export of fabrics, there is stagnation mainly due to the lack of processing capacity. Export by home textiles sector is doing well, recording positive growth consistently, thanks to new investments and conducive policy measures.
Do you expect the Indian government to expedite the process of FTA with EU in the near future to compete against Pakistan, Vietnam, and Bangladesh?
Yes, the India- EU FTA negotiations are in an advanced stage and once the deal is concluded, India will have a level-playing field with competing Asian countries. In fact, India will be in a better position than others mainly because of self-reliance in the entire value chain, particularly all types of raw materials.
Have Brexit and Trump's presidency had any impact on the export of cotton, yarn, and fabrics?
Brexit is in the initial stage of development as the modalities are being negotiated with the rest of the EU. (Donald) Trump's trade policy is likely to have a very limited impact on India's exports of textiles to the US.
For cotton, competition with polyester is a powerful challenge that is accelerating as chemical fibre production technology results in lower costs of polyester production. How do you think the cotton sector can overcome the challenges posed by polyester fibre?
Production and consumption of cotton v/s synthetics in India is 60:40 whereas worldwide it is the other way around. There is an increasing demand for cotton/synthetic blended textiles and thereby both fibres will continue to hold importance and demand in the value-added textiles and garment business.
Are you taking any steps to promote the India-grown cotton brands Suvin and Suvin Ratna?
The Textile Commissioner's office and Cotton Corporation of India in association with the council and leading trade bodies are undertaking various initiatives, under Mini Mission 3 of the Technology Mission on Cotton (TMC), in promoting branded cotton from India so that farmers would get better remuneration and the retail market gets assured quality standards. These initiatives will focus mainly on few varieties of cotton depending upon their acceptability in global markets.
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