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India will cease imports of silk yarn from China in yet another economic response against the neighbouring country following a surge in military tensions between the two nations this year.

The government will also strive to improve quality of domestically-produced cotton and wool to cut imports as part of a broader plan to achieve self-reliance under the ‘Atma Nirbhar Bharat’ initiative.

The decision was announced by the government before the standing committee of labour which met on Monday. The move will be a blow to China as it is the world’s second-largest producer of silk yarn and India one of the biggest importers.

“According to the plan of the union government, the 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. The silk yarns imported from China is of low quality and is impacting the products being produced with use of Chinese silk yarn. So now the union government has set up a timeline to end the import," said a senior parliamentarian who was part of the meeting.

Representatives of the Union government told members of Parliament (MPs) that the government now wants to change India’s status as a major importer of silk yarn.

This will add to steps taken recently by the Modi administration to increase the economic costs on China after a deadly border clash in June that led to the killing of 20 Indian soldiers. India has already banned a total of 224 mobile apps that have links to China including the popular game PUBG, Bytedance’s TikTok and Alibaba’s UC Browser. It has also put curbs on imports of colour television sets and cancelled railway and road tenders secured by Chinese firms .

India imported raw silk worth $99 million from China in FY20 which declined by 31% from the previous year.

The government representatives also informed the panel that they are working on a plan to improve the quality of Indian wool.

“The wool which is produced in the country is of low quality and most of it is not used for production of woollen clothes. The wool produced in India is mostly used to make carpets. The union government is now trying to reverse it in the days to come. The government is working on plan to reduce its import of wool in the coming days," said the member of the parliamentary panel.

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

Asit Ranjan Mishra contributed to this story.

gyan.v@livemint.com

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