"India's import of cotton woven fabrics has been moving south over the years. Cotton woven fabric imports during 2016-17 (provisional) at $133.46 million, is 18 per cent lower than in the previous year. Imports especially fell significantly from 2014-15. In that year, at $189 million imports were 28.71 per cent lower than in the previous year. In 2015-16, imports were to the tune of $163.19 million. 100 per cent cotton fabric accounts for over 50 per cent of total cotton fabric imports."
India's import of cotton woven fabrics has been moving south over the years. Cotton woven fabric imports during 2016-17 (provisional) at $133.46 million, is 18 per cent lower than in the previous year. Imports especially fell significantly from 2014-15. In that year, at $189 million imports were 28.71 per cent lower than in the previous year. In 2015-16, imports were to the tune of $163.19 million. 100 per cent cotton fabric accounts for over 50 per cent of total cotton fabric imports. However, its share in total cotton fabric imports has been falling steadily from over 65 per cent in 2012-13. Heavy cotton fabrics including denims, twills, etc., make up second largest share with over 32 per cent in cotton fabric imports.
The share of these fabrics has increased over the years from 23-28 per cent to the current level. In this category, denim fabric imports account for 37.8 per cent. However, imports have dipped on a per annum basis since 2013-14, when it was around $22.5 million. In 2015-16, denim fabric imports was $18.91 million which went down to $13.57 million in 2016-17, April-Jan.
MMF fabric imports
According to estimates import of MMF fabrics in 2016-17 are also down 10.55 per cent to $173.80 million. In the last few years, imports had shown significant increase. In 2013-14, it was $167.15 million around 14.38 per cent higher than in the previous year. Similarly, in 2014-15, imports touched $198.85 million that is a growth of almost 19 per cent. However, in 2015-16, imports were down 2.28 per cent to $194.30 million. And in 2016-17, provisional figures reveal, imports could be down 10.55 per cent. China remains the largest exporter of MMF fabrics to India, accounting for 73 per cent share. In cotton fabrics, China's share in India's imports is 65 per cent.
India's fabric demand
During April-January 2016-17, MMF fabric production at 12,118 million sq. m. was 5.79 per cent lower than in the previous year's period, reflecting lower demand for the fabric in the country. Lower exports of apparel and sluggish domestic retail market are the major reasons for the drop in fabric consumption. At present, MMF fabric imports account for just over 5 per cent of the domestic production. One needs to look at how apparel exports are expected to fare. Going by the global economic scenario, the market in US and Europe are going through a downturn, as a result, a number of large retailers are closing down. This will have an impact on India's apparel exports, and demand for fabric. Additionally, India's production and exports are heavily tilted towards cotton.
Meanwhile, minister of state for textiles Ajay Tamta had directed textile commissioner's office to gather data from ports all across the country about the volume of fabrics being imported from China. He feels this move would allow the government to decide on an appropriate duty structure for these imports. The ministry's decision to examine fabric imports follows reports that undervalued imports from China have paralysed Surat's MMF industry. Meanwhile, around 50 per cent of powerlooms in the cluster are running at 50-70 per cent capacity. However, low capacity utilisation was also a result of the government's demonetisation drive, which halted the cash transactions and trade in the industry.