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Centre considers stopping silk import from China to push domestic production

The Union government wants to reduce imports in textiles in the coming daysPremium
The Union government wants to reduce imports in textiles in the coming days

  • Silk yarn imported from China is of low quality and it is impacting the quality of textile being produced using it. Therefore, the Union government has set up a timeline to end the import
  • Wool produced in India is mostly used to make carpets and not clothes. The Union government is trying to reverse this and reduce import of wool in the days to come

In an effort to take forward its plan to make India Atma Nirbhar, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has decided to stop importing silk yarn from China. It also aims to improve the quality of cotton and wool production within the country to reduce imports in the coming days in the textile sector.

The Union government announced the decisions before the standing committee of Labour, which met on Monday. The government has made it clear there would be greater push for self reliance in the textile sector, including looking at ways to boost consumption and enhance related technology intervention.

“The Union government wants to stop import of silk yarn from China in the next one year, while also improving the production of silk yarn in the country. Silk yarn imported from China is of low quality and it is impacting the quality of textile being produced using it. Therefore, the Union government has set up a timeline to end the import," a senior parliamentarian who was part of the meeting said.

Representatives of the Union government told the committee that China was the second largest producer of silk yarn in the world and India was one of biggest importers of the product. The government wants to now change this under the Atma Nirbhar mission.

They also informed the panel that they were working on the plan to improve the quality of wool production in the country to help reduce imports.

“Wool produced in the country is of low quality and most of it is not used to produce clothes. The wool produced in India is mostly used to make carpets. The Union government is trying to reverse this in the days to come. The government is working on a plan to reduce its import of wool in the coming days," a member of the parliamentary panel said.

Similarly, the government is also working on a plan to improve the quality of cotton produced in India. “The immediate challenge for India has come from countries such as Bangladesh and Vietnam. These nations have better quality of cotton. Bangladesh has also opened its market to European countries and has benefited from it," said the parliamentarian.

The MPs of the Labour panel suggested that the Union government should not follow the example of Bangladesh while boosting the production of cotton in the country. “The panel suggested that India should try to sell its cotton to African countries, because it is a bigger market compared with Europe where the demand of cotton clothes is only for three months whereas in Africa the demand for cotton clothes is much higher and for a greater period," the parliamentarian added.

The developments are significant as they come against the backdrop of India’s troubled ties with China as a result of the ongoing border standoff in Ladakh. India recently banned 224 mobile apps which have links to China, including the popular game PUBG, Bytedance’s TikTok, and Alibaba’s UC Browser. The stress on promoting home-grown textile and discouraging import from China, too, are significant from the economic point of view.

The labour committee’s meeting on Monday, which deliberated on challenges and opportunities in the Indian textile industry, saw representatives from textile ministry inform the panel that a series of steps were being taken to enhance output of indigenous produce and focus on research and development (R&D) in the sector.

“Due to covid-19 pandemic and a number of other reasons, the textile industry has been going through a challenging time. To encourage better quality of domestic produce, the Centre said it is considering rolling out resource and management classes related to textile sector, among other things. Countries smaller than ours have several textile management institutes, while we have none," another member of the panel said. They added that in the context of wool production, a discussion took place on how India has surplus sheep population but the quality is not on a par with others, especially western countries.

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