GENEVA — India has ambitious plans to attract investors and revamp the country’s textile and apparel manufacturing sector, including moving into higher value-added segments and attracting top brands, as part of the “Make in India” initiative spearheaded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a senior Indian official said.
Textiles and apparel are among the 25 priority sectors identified by the initiative, which was launched last September and which seeks to make the South Asia nation of nearly 1.3 billion people a top manufacturing hub.
“It’s really crucial that we have more textiles production, and to export part of that,” said Rajiv Aggarwal, joint secretary at India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry. “The way we look at it, India is already rich in textiles, but it really needs to rethink in ensuring better quality. These are areas we can really do well. And we are taking it up. We are looking at standard textiles, we are looking at other areas.”
He said more value-added textiles is a must.
“That is definitely one of the areas, because while mass production is always needed, and that’s one of the areas we’re really strong at, at the end of the day if you want to give more value…to our industry, to our manufacturers, it is important we add value to the products. And then they are favored not only in terms of domestic sales, but also in terms of exports to the entire world.”
Aggarwal, who was in Geneva for the inauguration of a “Make in India” exhibition held at the World Intellectual Property Organization, conceded, that on the apparel front, the country is lagging behind its neighbor Bangladesh, but indicated the government is not seeking to follow the same model.
‘The way we look at it, Bangladesh obviously has advantages, having cheap labor and having focused on that particular area,” he remarked, adding, “For us, as we move up the value chain, and move up in terms of economy, in terms of wages, obviously we will have to shift our priority and create more and more niche markets for the products that we would be more competitive.
“We’re looking at specialized clothing material, where we can do well and learn from the world and produce those. And there I’m sure we will have the comparative advantage.”
India’s textiles and apparel sector, which employs more than 45 million people, is estimated to reach sales of $100 billion in 2016-17, up from $67 billion in 2013-14, and exports from the sector in the same period are projected to reach $65 billion, up from $40 billion, according to government and industry estimates.
Fabric production is also projected to nearly double to 112 billion square meters from 64 billion in the same period.
Asked what are the pull factors for foreign investors in the sector, Aggarwal said, one of the obvious strengths in India is in terms of skilled labor. “We have this abundance of availability of skilled labor, so this is one major area [that] immediately anyone who is investing in India can avail,” he said.