India’s apparel exports are estimated to have declined by 17 per cent in the first quarter of FY19 due to a slowdown in demand from developed countries following weak economic activity there. Data compiled by the apex industry body, the Clothing Manufacturers’ Association of India (CMAI), showed India’s apparel exports at $1.35 bn and $1.34 bn in April and May 2018, a decline of 23 per cent and 17 per cent respectively. During FY18, apparel exports from India fell by 4 per cent to $16.72 bn.

Starting in June 2017, after the goods and services tax (GST) was implemented, and resulted in the blockage of working capital due to delay in refund of State levies and other mandatory refundable taxes, the slowdown in overseas pick continued till the first quarter of the current fiscal. “India’s overall apparel exports are estimated to have declined by 17 per cent in the quarter between April – June 2018 due to depressed economic conditions-led lower demand and growth. Consequently, Indian domestic market performed better during the first quarter of the current fiscal than the largest consumption regions like United States (23 per cent share in India’s overall apparel exports), European Union (38.4 per cent share) and Japan (1.1 per cent share),” said Rahul Mehta, President, CMAI, while announcing the 67th National Garment Fair, India’s largest apparel trade show, scheduled to be held between July 16-19.

India’s domestic apparel market was estimated at $67 bn in 2017 and it has grown at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10 per cent since 2005. Owing to strong fundamentals, the domestic apparel market is expected to grow at 11-12 per cent CAGR and reach about $160 bn by 2025.

“The introduction of GST has resulted in non-refund of several embedded taxes. Consequently, apparel exports for the financial year 2017-18 posted a decline. The downturn continues in FY 2018-19 with a month on month decline of 10 per cent. The government is seized of the matter and has assured that embedded taxes will be refunded through the drawback route,” said Premal Udani, Managing Director, Kaytee Corporation, one of India’s largest kids’ wear exporters.

Meanwhile, the apparel industry has raised concerns over the rising import of apparel from Bangladesh, which experts claimed had hit the domestic industry hard. “The imports of textiles and apparel have reported a jump of 16 per cent to touch the highest ever of $7 bn for the financial year 2017-18 compared to $6 bn. All the categories across the value chain have seen a drastic rise in imports over the last few years,” said Sanjay Jain, Managing Director, TT Ltd and Chairman of the Confederation of Indian Textile Industry (CITI).