The Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) on Wednesday urged the government to declare apparel exports as essential services and exempt the exporting units from lockdowns across India.
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, it said.
"We request that the Central government should issue necessary instructions to all the state governments to declare apparel exports as essential services and exempt them from shutdown," AEPC Chairman A Sakthivel said in a communication to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
He said that considering the perishable nature of the product, apparel exports should be seen as essential services.
Sakthivel stated that many neighbouring and competing countries have already accorded apparel exports the status of essential services.
The sector, he said, showed resilience in getting back on track after being badly hit in 2020 with huge export order cancellations, bankruptcies and labourers going back to native places.
"Export orders from the US and Europe have revived but now the Indian apparel exporters face the danger of losing these to competing countries as the second wave of COVID-19 crisis has resulted in lockdowns in several states," he added.
Due to the lockdown, if the units are unable to execute these orders, this will result, not only in the short term loss of orders and export earnings, but also a long term loss of the buyers, the chairman said.
"Our competing countries like Bangladesh, Vietnam, Cambodia and Pakistan are making all efforts to take orders from these regions and if we lose our buyers at this point, they will not come back in the near future," Sakthivel added.
Further in a webinar, he has asked the buying houses and agents to explain to the international clients that the situation in India is getting better by the day.
He said that they should convince their clients not to cancel their orders as he believes India will bounce back by mid-June.
Though buyers are not looking at mass cancellations, like it happened in 2020, certain products will not be able to ship, the council said.
The apparel industry engages about 13 million direct workers.
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