In a recent meeting, as textile and apparel manufacturers discussed various issues with the Textile Minister Smriti Irani, she immediately raised the point that it’s been 3 years now that she has been pursuing the industry to give importance to the technical textiles sector, but she never got the support. She further added that the textiles sector needs to ascertain how opportunities can be commercialised.
No doubt that the MoT strongly focuses on technical textiles and has taken some concrete steps in the recent years, be it notifying the 207 HSN codes for products under technical textiles, initiating the National Technical Textiles Mission (NTTM) for 4 years (2020-21 to 2023-24) with the total outlay of Rs. 1,480 crore, associating with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), and organising the TECHNOTEX event, etc.
MoT needs the industry’s support to encash the opportunities because the current global market of technical textiles is around US $ 250 billion, and as far as India is concerned, it has a share of 6 per cent in this global market. There are more opportunities for India, as the consumption of technical textiles-related products in India is even lesser than half as compared to developed countries.
India currently consumes all 12 categories of technical textiles which are not entirely produced in India. Major segments produced in India are Packtech (41.6 per cent), Indutech (11.3 per cent), Hometech (10.4 per cent), Mobiltech (9.8 per cent), Clothtech (7.0 per cent) and Sportech (6.1 per cent).
MoT’s focus on technical textiles is not new; back in 2010, the Technology Mission on Technical Textiles (TMTT), along with two mini-missions, was operational for a period of 5 years from 2010-11 to 2014-15 with a total fund outlay of Rs. 200 crore. And it was extended by another 2 years (2015-16 and 2016-17) with a financial allocation of Rs. 55.3 crore.
Moving further, the MoT is also planning to have a separate integrated mega textiles park for technical textiles so that this industry can grow in a better way. “Efforts are also underway to position India as one of the major producers of the technical textile as the country’s share is poor in the global market. We will mainly support the products or organisations having global demand and focus on export,” says Ravi Capoor, Secretary, Ministry of Textiles.
The Government is aiming at the export promotion of technical textiles enhancing from the current annual value of approximately Rs. 14,000 crore to Rs. 20,000 crore by 2021-22, and ensuring 10 per cent average growth in exports per year up to 2023-24. Indian Technical Textile Association (ITTA) is also actively working to promote technical textiles in the country. In recent years, it has signed two international MOUs with Taiwan Technical Textile Association (TTTA) and Nissenken Quality Evaluation Centre, Japan (NQEC). These collaborative efforts will help companies to seek new collaborations, to explore new investments and to increase the trade of technical textile products with Taiwan and Japan.
Technical textiles cover a very wide gamut of products which even a common man uses in his daily life. A report by TMR Research claims that a massive demand will arise from the automotive industry and this will be attributed to the growing demand for automobiles in countries such as the UAE, Japan and Germany. Technical textiles in automobiles are used in seating upholstery, seat belts and tyre cords. India also manufactures similar products.
The additional advantage for the Indian industry is that many Indian companies have a strong know-how of this segment, and they are constantly working towards new developments in this regard. India also produces a variety of products in the technical textiles segment, many of which are more for the use of masses. For example, many factories in Coimbatore are leading in technical textiles. Sri Venkatalakshmi Spinners (SVS Advanced Fabrics) has recently become the first Indian company to pass the ISO 16604 test. The advanced fabric that the company manufactures is called ‘doctor shield’ medical protection fabric, which boasts of the following qualities – viral penetration resistance, ASTM F1670 – blood penetration resistance, virucide finish that kills virus within 2-5 minutes of contact with the fabric.
All such efforts by the Government and various Indian companies deserve appreciation, as these efforts help promote the industry, covering all aspects with long-term results. And it is noteworthy that things have now started moving ahead on the ground level, as the MoT has recently started hiring for the NTTM. Similarly, involvement of industry bodies like FICCI will also help establish a proper coordination with the Government.
Despite the strong and continuous focus, proper support and a clear vision, why has India not been able to grab massive opportunities and become an important player in this sector? What are the hindrances and what are the expectations from the Government? Even the Government is looking for answers to these questions, as Ravi Capoor recently instructed the FICCI to prepare a report on these issues.
The existing players in this segment, who are doing reasonably well, strongly feel that all such issues (like proper infrastructure, etc. which can be faced by any other industry) are also experienced by the companies involved in technical textiles.
Regarding the industry-specific issues, funding for research and development, speeding up the process to set up specific testing labs, and for specific product categories, change in policies are very much required.
There are some raw materials in this product category which are majorly imported from other countries, especially China. A technical textiles unit owner shared on the request of anonymity, “Regarding the indigenous developments, NITI Aayog has met with some foreign companies, but there’s been no gain so far. India has the right brains; it only needs the right support, mainly funding.”
Ashish Kansal, ED, SMPP, Delhi, who is also an expert of fibre engineering, shared his experience, “For setting up a lab, I’ve been waiting for approvals from various ministries/departments for the last 2 years. So, the Government needs to speed up the approval process at various stages.” He further added that R&D also needs long-term fund support. Banks are wary of funding any new technology or ‘technical entrepreneurs’. “Easy availability of funds for long-term high technology projects should not limit to just large entities,” he insisted.
SMPP is known for its specialisation in bulletproof solutions and supplying bulletproof products to Indian forces.
Testing labs capable of validating and scaling test protocols and products are a big need for this sector as such labs are also required for medical textile-related products.
Manufacturing seat belts and airbags at its four units situated at Manesar, Neemrana, Pune and Chennai, Joyson Safety Systems, US, is a global leader in mobility safety providing safety-critical components, systems and technology to automotive and non-automotive markets. It has a global network of more than 50,000 employees in around 25 countries. Mahendra S. Rajawat, President & MD of the company in India, highlighted the issue of high investment cost of yarn and fibre production, “Raw material dependency is majorly on imports, especially for dyes and chemicals. Alternate sources for the same are very limited. So, the Government should support on investment and import. Infrastructural support for such manufacturing plants is also required. At the same time, it must be highlighted that Tier-2 suppliers are not available.” He also added that Intellectual Property (IP) protection is also a major point for localisation.
For few companies, policies regarding import, duty, etc. are important aspects and demand necessary changes. Deb P. Bhattacharyya, EVP of the company, said, “There is a lower basic custom duty on belting fabrics (10 per cent) as compared to other technical textile fabrics (20 per cent). In the international market, there is a 14 per cent duty on Indian exports. At the same time, it is also pertinent to mention here that products like aramid belts have almost zero presence in India and are totally dependent on import.”
SRF Limited, Gurugram, is a leading Indian company having a strong control over some technical textile products, and one of them is conveyor belting fabrics (industrial textiles) along with coated and laminated fabrics.
Above mentioned are just a few challenges faced by the industry, and only the Government can provide solutions to them. While the Government always claims to support, why is it not reaching the industry? Is it because even if the policies are good, things are not changing at the ground level? Or is it because only the top level officials are aggressively working towards it, but things aren’t changing at the execution level? It must be highlighted here that ministers and top officials have been active for 3 years, which is not a small period, but all in vain!
All in all, for the growth of this sector, apart from working together with the Government, the industry also needs support from other ministries.
|Top 10 HSN lines –|
|961900||Sanitary towels, napkins, tampons|
|392190||Plates, sheets, film and strip of plastics|
|870895||Safety airbags for automobiles|
|391810||Floor coverings (including geotextile)|
|950699||Articles and equipment for sports and outdoor games|
|590320||Textile fabrics impregnated, coated, covered|
|300610||Sterile surgical catgut|
|621040||Men’s/boys’ garments, coated (protech)|
|300590||Wadding, gauze, bandages|
|300510||Adhesive dressings and other articles|