Chennai: Garment exports from Tirupur dropped to Rs 25,000 crore for the year ended March 2020, from Rs 26,000 crore in the previous year as Covid pandemic wiped away most of March exports. The target was to export garments worth Rs 28,000 crore. Domestic sales were flat at Rs 25000 crore for the fiscal.

With nearly six lakh workers, Tirupur exports knitwear to global giants. With the Covid pandemic which started sweeping Western markets in February and March, shipments were impacted.

“We hardly did any business for March. Several key markets for us were locked down and hence we could not achieve the targets,” said Raja M Shanmugam, president, Tirupur Exporters Association (TEA), an apex body of garment exporters. The bright spot was domestic sales, which remained unchanged at Rs 25,000 crore, even as the country’s economic growth slowed down.

“Almost all global brands are now present in India and source from Tirupur. Our India business was flat,” Shanmugam added.

With the restart of operations post Covid lockdown, he said exporters were operating at 40% to 50% of their rated capacity now. “This is the lean season for us. With guest workers leaving Tirupur, operations too are yet to gather momentum,” he added.

The region employs nearly six lakh workers. Of these 2.5 lakh are guest workers who have since returned to their native towns fearing Covid outbreak.

“Our domestic workers, nearly 3.5 lakh from other parts of the state have returned to work. We are in touch with the guest workers too, We hope they will return once railways commences regular services,” he said.

Exporters aren’t too bothered about the present labour shortage. “We don't have many orders and since this is a lean season, it is not an issue. We will feel the labour pinch only by August or so, by which time, we hope they return,” Shanmugam said,

Once things fall in place, TEA will release export projections by September.

“Orders are limping, we are yet to get hold of the business. We can't comment on the market for 2020-21 till September,” he said.

Published On : 23-06-2020

Source : The Times of India

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