The textile industry is the largest industry of modern India. It accounts for over 20 percent of industrial production and is closely linked with the agricultural and rural economy. It is the single largest employer in the industrial sector employing about 38 million people. If employment in allied sectors like ginning, agriculture, pressing, cotton trade, jute, etc. are added then the total employment is estimated at 93 million. The net foreign exchange earnings in this sector are one of the highest and, together with carpet and handicrafts, account for over 37 percent of total export earnings at over US $ 10 billion. Textiles, alone, account for about 25 percent of India’s total forex earnings.
India’s textile industry since its beginning continues to be predominantly cotton based with about 65 percent of fabric consumption in the country being accounted for by cotton. The industry is highly localised in Ahmedabad and Bombay in the western part of the country though other centres exist including Kanpur, Calcutta, Indore, Coimbatore, and Sholapur.
The structure of the textile industry is extremely complex with the modern, sophisticated and highly mechanised mill sector on the one hand and the handspinning and handweaving (handloom) sector on the other. Between the two falls the small-scale powerloom sector. The latter two are together known as the decentralised sector. Over the years, the government has granted a whole range of concessions to the non-mill sector as a result of which the share of the decentralised sector has increased considerably in the total production. Of the two sub-sectors of the decentralised sector, the powerloom sector has shown the faster rate of growth. In the production of fabrics the decentralised sector accounts for roughly 94 percent while the mill sector has a share of only 6 percent.
Being an agro-based industry the production of raw material varies from year to year depending on weather and rainfall conditions. Accordingly the price fluctuates too.
India's trade in textiles and its share in world trade can be categorized as follows:
India’s Trade in Textiles
|Type |India's Share in World Trade | |Yarn |22% | |Fabrics |3.2% | |Apparel |2% | |Made-ups |9% | | | | |Over-all |2.8% |
The textile and clothing trade is governed by the Multi-Fibre Agreement (MFA) which came into force on January 1, 1974 replacing short-term and long-term arrangements of the 1960’s which protected US textile producers from booming Japanese textiles exports. Later, it was extended to other developing countries like India, Korea, Hong Kong, etc. which had acquired a comparative advantage in textiles. Currently, India has bilateral arrangements under MFA with USA, Canada, Australia, countries of the European Commission, etc. Under MFA, foreign trade is subject to relatively high tariffs and export quotas restricting India’s penetration into these markets. India was interested in the early phasing out of these quotas in the Uruguay Round of Negotiations but this did not happen due to the reluctance of the developed countries like the US and EC to open up their textile markets to Third World imports because of high labour costs. With the removal of quotas, exports of textiles have now to cope with new challenges in the form of growing non-tariff / non-trade barriers such as growing regionalisation of trade between blocks of nations, child labour, anti-dumping duties, etc.
Nevertheless, it must be realised that the picture is not all rosy. It is now being...