Lockdowns In Europe Impact India’s Apparel Exports

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Already struggling to stay afloat due to the soaring prices of cotton yarn and a drop in export orders, Tirupur’s garment manufacturers are worried as the second wave of the pandemic could further worsen production at their units.

“Several top brands and showrooms have been shut in Europe due to Covid, so they can’t even accommodate our old orders that have been exported. This has caused a reduction in the number of new orders,” explained Tirupur Exporters Association president Raja M Shanmugam. Besides, the high cost of yarn doesn’t let them sell their products at the prices fixed by European traders, he added. Known as the knitwear hub of the country, Tirupur houses over 9,000 units and employs over 5 lakh labourers.

Recently, a manufacturing unit in the region was sealed for two days after 31 workers tested positive for coronavirus. Taking note of the situation, senior state government officials convened a virtual meeting with exporters and manufacturers of Tirupur, and advised them to be proactive about restricting the spread of the virus. Besides enforcing strict adherence to SOPs, industry players were told to encourage eligible staff to get vaccinated.

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“The cost of yarn has increased by almost 40% in the last six months. So we can’t deliver export and domestic orders, and are suffering huge losses. And now, the rise in the number of Covid-19 cases has added to our woes,” said S Jayakumar, a manufacturing unit owner in Tirupur. He added that not many units have facilities to house workers, and hence, it is difficult to keep a tab on their health.

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“Many patients are asymptomatic, so it is difficult to trace them,” said Vijay K, another trader. “Being a labour-intensive industry, our well-being depends on our workers. We are maintaining physical distance at the factory and are conducting vaccine-awareness drives,” said Shanmugham. Tirupur exports garments worth about Rs 2,500 crore every month, and the size of its domestic market is also about the same. The industry does business of over Rs 55,000 crore annually.

US$ 3 billion garment export industry in Gurugram, Faridabad also hit
With Covid crisis worsening in European nations such as Spain, Germany and France and eventual lockdowns, the US$ 3 billion industry of Gurugram and Faridabad faces a setback with orders being cancelled or reduced by almost 60%. Over 1,800 export units in Faridabad and Gurugram thrive on garment production for buyers in Germany and France.

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“From May till August it is a lean period for our industry. If the situation continues many ancillaries or small units dependent on us will be affected,” said Animesh Saxena, president of Udyog Vihar Industries Association.

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