AEPC Chairman Dr A Sakthivel said that if the apparel exporters lose customers now, they might never come back in the near future while failure to execute these orders might lead to a long-term loss for buyers.
Apparel exporters body Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to declare apparel exports as essential services and exempt the exporting units from Covid-induced lockdowns across India. Asserting the perishable nature of apparel goods, AEPC Chairman Dr A Sakthivel in a letter to PM Modi said, “Most of the apparel exports are season and fashion-sensitive, and their salvage value becomes zero if the production and shipment are not done in time.”
The council further pointed out that it was only recently the export companies had recovered after being badly hit in the first wave with bankruptcies and lack of labour due to their migration to native places. While Indian apparel exporters have started getting orders from the US and Europe, but now with the lockdown restrictions imposed, they are in the danger of losing their orders to “competing countries like Bangladesh, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Pakistan (who) are making all efforts to take orders from these regions,” Sakthivel said. He added that if the apparel exporters lose customers now, they might never come back in the near future while failure to execute these orders might lead to a long-term loss for buyers.
APEC also met buying houses and associations over a video conference to discuss the impact of the second wave of the pandemic. Sakthivel urged the buying houses and associations to convince their international clients not to cancel the orders by explaining to them that the situation in India is getting better by the day and that the country would bounce back by mid-June. He also mentioned the efforts put forward by AEPC towards getting all apparel workers vaccinated.
The representatives of buying houses and associations said that they have been trying to convince the international clients, who have also been “extremely compassionate” towards helping India, about this being a temporary setback. However, the current lockdown will impact the orders as most of them are seasonally time-sensitive. Nonetheless, unlike 2020, buyers are not expecting mass cancellations from customers, according to the representatives. Highlighting the size and significance of the apparel industry as the largest employer in India’s manufacturing sector with 13 million direct workers, Sakthivel sought urgent intervention of PM Modi to support apparel exporters, especially in the MSME segment.