Home/ Economy / Lift dumping duty on viscose fibre to save textiles, say MPs

NEW DELHI : A delegation of about a dozen members of parliament has met finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman seeking the removal of anti-dumping duty on viscose fibre (VSF), a critical raw material for the textile industry.

MPs belonging to Communist Party of India (Marxist), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, All India Trinamool Congress, Indian National Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party also wrote to Sitharaman saying an anti-dumping duty of $0.512/kg was proposed on VSF, which would raise the import price of viscose fibre, causing stress to small manufacturers.

The appeal comes amid an emphasis on quality textiles, especially for exports. Countries with which India is negotiating free trade agreements have all sought high standards of goods.

In textiles, India is competing with countries such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka which can not only produce cheaply but also have duty-free access to the European Union and Canada.

Viscose, known as poor people’s silk, is a biodegradable and cellulose-based man-made fibre extracted from wood pulp.

The MPs said, “Viscose blended cotton is the future. It is a critical raw material for the spinning and weaving industry, with end-products used in apparel, accessories, and Technical Textile Applications."

Due to its versatility and low cost, they said, India’s demand for this raw material is growing by roughly 12% annually. In thisfinancial year, the domestic VSF demand was 700,000 tonnes, and the availability was only 540,000 tonnes.

A government official, on the condition of anonymity, said that low-quality imports of raw material coming into the country run counter to the government’s effort to improve quality.

“Both QCOs (quality control order) and cheap imports cannot go hand in hand. Quality is a priority, and efforts are made in that direction. The industry has made a presentation regarding the duty imposed on VSF. This call will be taken by the finance ministry," the official added.

Last year the union government introduced a quality control order on VSF to improve the quality of textile products. In January, the government extended the applicability of the order by 60 days after the textile industry sought more time to adapt to new norms.

Queries sent to the ministries of commerce, finance and textiles remained answered at press time.

“With only one major viscose supplier contributing to over 90% of the supply, India’s entire value chain is facing big risks. Many small spinners cannot access viscose as the supply is limited to select spinners," the letter further said.

China is the biggest supplier of VSF globally.

The MPs said the reintroduction of duties would increase raw material prices for downstream industries, because of which livelihoods and exports would suffer.

In December, an anti-dumping duty of $0.512/kg was recommended by the Directorate General of Trade Remedies to be reintroduced on VSF imports from Indonesia.

“This move could raise the import price of viscose fibre by as much as 40 per kg, leading to trade disruptions, reduced competitiveness, and economic losses in the textile industry, a crucial source of employment in the country, particularly for the rural poor and women," the MPs said in the letter to Sitharaman.

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Updated: 21 Mar 2023, 11:53 PM IST
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