PUNE: Indian textile manufacturers, who lost almost their entire summer exports business, are now flooded with enquires about immediate supplies of at least 500 million non-surgical fashion masks from leading apparel brands of Europe and the US. This is a business opportunity worth ?4,000 crore over next one year and can employ 100,000 workers, industry representatives said.
“Hence, we request to lift the ban on export of masks,” said Prabhu Damodaran, convenor of Indian Texpreneurs Federation (ITF) that represents the textile industry of Tamil Nadu.
The country had banned export of surgical masks, personal protective equipment (PPEs) and some medicines in March as it faced a shortage of these key items amid rising numbers of Covid-19 patients. Textile industry claimed that the custom authorities are not allowing exports of non-surgical cloth mask, too.
The industry has now assured the government that it can meet the country’s requirement of both surgical and non-surgical masks as well as PPEs with a little handholding.
“Many of our members have started making masks for domestic markets from Coimbatore and Tiruppur clusters in large numbers,” Damodaran said. “Now, we have huge capacities to cater to both domestic market as well as exports. Our sector is recently receiving daily enquiries from all the major countries for fashion masks with an immediate need for at least 50 crore masks. This alone can generate a ?1,000 crore business and can engage 25,000 workers.”
Industry insiders masks have now become an accessory to the garments being exported.
“All the global brands gave been enquiring about separate masks in common colours and masks of colour and design patterns matching to the garments, which are washable and reusable,” said Raja M Shanmugam, president of Tiruppur Exporters’ Association (TEA).
The industry is not only looking at the non-surgical fashion masks but has already invested in manufacturing of the medical grade PPEs and mask.
During the lockdown period, Tirupur had started manufacturing PPEs using sewing machines, which could not be used by the paramedical staff as the holes made during stitching process made it permeable.
Now, entrepreneurs from Tirupur have imported 200 seamsealing machines, which started working from last week.
“These 200 machines can manufacture 40,000 PPEs a day and the import of machines is likely to continue,” Shanmugam said.
“If the government ensures the logistics support for procuring the raw material and also helps for transferring of technology from DRDO (Defence Research & Development Organisation) and other accredited research agencies, then, within a month, Tirupur can fulfil the requirements of the entire nation making import of these items unnecessary,” he said.
Shanmugam said some global brands have asked for giving anti-microbial wash to the face masks.
The textile export industry has pegged the loss of business due to Covid-19 pandemic at about 50%. Everyone has lost the summer season with many manufacturers, retailers locking capital in huge unsold inventories of summer season clothes.