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  • 27.02.2014

Maximizing value: how India can lead the world in textiles

China's challenges may be India's gain if the industry can capitalize on low cotton prices, leading spinners hear at the USTER® QUALITY UNIVERSITY

Uster, Switzerland, Februar 27, 2014 – For India's textile industry, the future is bright. It's likely that India may ultimately become the world's biggest cotton producer, but quality and value issues remain if the whole sector is to reach its full potential in the competitive global marketplace. These were the hot topics highlighted by industry experts and leading figures from Indian textiles, at the recent USTER® QUALITY UNIVERSITY in Goa.

Indian cotton prices are currently among the lowest in the world – lower priced than those of China – so yarn and fabric producers might reasonably be expecting an export bonanza. The drawback, however, is that many Indian cotton growers lack the necessary expertise to deliver the raw material quality that spinning mills need. Harvesting, storage and transportation practices all need to be improved, through appropriate education and training.

Attendees at the USTER® QUALITY UNIVERSITY heard that the Technology Mission for Cotton (TMC) had a program of actions designed to tackle these challenges. For example, spinning mills wanted to create a fund to educate and train growers in proper transportation and storage of cotton, to minimize contamination.

Spinners and experts from Andhra Pradesh have been calling for improvements in ginning techniques, to produce cottons with lower levels of short fiber, trash and polypropylene contamination. Even gins certified by TMC are said to have been supplying cottons with high short fiber content, caused by unsatisfactory handling in material transfer. The optimized use of pneumatic conveyors at ginning is also being mooted, as a means of reducing nep content.

These issues were cited as further evidence of the need for a spinner-supported education fund to improve knowledge and practices in ginning.

G. Punnaiah Choudary, chairman of Andhra Pradesh Spinning Mills Association and Honorary President Andhra Pradesh Cotton Association signing the attendee poster at the USTER® QUALITY UNIVERSITY

Manohar Kanitkar, country head at US-based Werner International signing the attendee poster at the USTER® QUALITY UNIVERSITY

Shashi Stalekar, cotton expert and vice-president of the cotton division of Ahmedabad-based Sagar Associates signing the attendee poster at the USTER® QUALITY UNIVERSITY

Expert views: the way forward for Indian textiles...
A special feature of the USTER® QUALITY UNIVERSITY was a panel discussion, with leading experts from the cotton sector, organized by Uster Technologies, Switzerland and the Indian office of this quality measurement and classification instruments manufacturer. The panel comprised: Shashi Stalekar, cotton expert and vice-president of the cotton division of Ahmedabad-based Sagar Associates; Manohar Kanitkar, country head at US-based Werner International; G. Punnaiah Choudary, chairman of Andhra Pradesh Spinning Mills Association and Honorary President Andhra Pradesh Cotton Association; and Thomas Nasiou, head of textile technology at Uster Technologies.

Panel members agreed that the future was generally bright for Indian textiles, a key factor in this being the difficulties currently being faced by competitors in China. The Chinese government's policies were hampering textile business, both locally and internationally, with the high price of cotton making it hard for China's spinners to be competitive. And there was no indication when, or if, this situation would change. In the meantime, producers in India, Pakistan and other Asian countries were taking advantage by exporting coarse- and medium- count yarns to China at prices which were affordable to customers there but also still profitable for the spinners.

Panel member Manohar Kanitkar stressed that the best course for the Indian textile sector would be to focus on added-value exports such as yarn, fabric and clothing, rather than raw cotton. This was despite his view that India was “set to become the biggest producer of cotton in the world.” To foster the required change of emphasis, he suggested that subsidies should be adjusted to target the appropriate segments of the textile value chain.

Total growth along the entire Indian value chain from cotton to finished goods was also forecast by G. Punnaiah Choudary. He predicted that India would “take pole position in the worldwide textile sector in the next four to five years. This advance would be heightened by the fact that China was already starting to cut back production of commodity yarns because of rising costs and was likely to also extend this to commodity fabrics at some point.

Optimism for the future of Indian textiles, expressed strongly by Shashi Stalekar, was underpinned by assistance from a number of state governments, he said. Spinning mills projects such as a recent one in Gujarat would help the goal of adding value to raw cotton.

...and a potential obstacle: the Trans-Pacific Partnership
A possible counterbalance to the positive impact of Chinese government actions for Indian spinners is on the horizon, in the form of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Many experts see this as bringing disadvantages to the national textile sector, it was reported.

The TPP is a proposed trade agreement under negotiation by Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam. The idea is to enhance trade and investment, promote innovation, and support job creation and retention.

But it is the TPP's aim of duty-free trade which is seen as putting Indian industry at a competitive disadvantage. Nevertheless, the potential export benefits continue to attract interest from other countries, including Taiwan, Thailand, Philippines, Laos, Colombia, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Cambodia and Bangladesh – as well as India itself and even China.

Vital interface: management and technical expertise
The expert panel was part of a three-day USTER® QUALITY UNIVERSITY event, staged in Goa during December 2013. The target audience was spinners from Andhra Pradesh province, and a total of 28 mill owners and directors took part to hear advice on improving profitability and optimizing quality. Sessions devoted to raw material, blowroom, carding and winding procedures featured practical examples and information, which were well appreciated by the attendees. The blend of educative presentations on spinning processes, interactive dialog and panel discussions provided vital insights tailored to the needs of the spinning companies taking part. It was an opportunity for mill chiefs to come face to face with technical experts to explore important issues and gain renewed confidence in business decision-making.

Thomas Nasiou, head of textile technology at Uster Technologies, summed up the benefits of the event: “Our objective with USTER® QUALITY UNIVERSITY was to share the experiences and best practices followed by spinning mills from around the globe with top management of Indian spinners, helping them run their spinning operations with a quality mindset, to achieve optimum results in both profitability and quality.”