Speaking to FE, senior textile ministry officials said the delegation will request the Canadian government to extend a 30-50 per cent rebate in import duties on garments to India to allow exporters to stay in the race. The delegation will comprise officials from the textile ministry and the Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC).
The Canadian government had recently announced a package of concessions for the least developed countries (LDCs) which included elimination of import duties on garments from January next.
Since Bangladesh, which is a strong competitor of India in the area of garment exports, also falls in the LDC category, it will not have to pay the 20 per cent import duty applicable on garments. According to AEPC chairman Virendra Uppal, this will make Indian exports uncompetitive and exporters will lose their entire market share.
Mr Uppal said Bangladeshs products are already 5-10 per cent cheaper than Indian garments and the duty concession will give it an almost 30 per cent cost advantage.
Our entire garment exports to Canada will be wiped out if we are not given some concession, he said.
The delegation will try to persuade the Canadian government to lower duties on Indian garments by half to 10 per cent. We cannot challenge Canadas decision to grant duty exemption to Bangladesh as it falls in the LDC category. All that we can do is to press it to extend some concession to Indian exporters as well.
The Canadian garment market is estimated at $3.9 billion per annum. While Indias present share is $241 million, Bangladeshs share stands at $90 million.
Mr Uppal said the Canadian garment market offers India a huge untapped potential which exporters will not be able to tap in the absence of a level playing field vis-a-vis Bangladesh.