Despite demand from the major export markets of the United States and the European Union, the industry is not in a position to cash in on the opportunity due to a acute shortage of laborers, mainly tailors. Some units are running with 25 to 30 per cent of the total workforce, and many are coping with even smaller percentage of laborers.
According to data, India exported garments worth $1.45 billion (10,955 crore in rupees) in the quarter ending June 2020, against $4.17 billion (29,008 crore in rupees) in the corresponding period last year.
The exporters maintain there is no dearth of orders from countries like the US, European and Middle East countries. However, they are not taking fresh orders, as they fear their execution won’t be carried out within the stipulated time in the absence of laborers and adherence to the COVID-19 norms. For tailors, the industry is dependent on migrants from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Orissa.
The Indian exporters had started getting many queries from overseas buyers, who were keen to place the orders. However, since the laborers have returned to their native places, the industry is wary of accepting fresh orders. Besides, the workers seem to be in no mood to return in near future because of the Covid-19 scare, thus affecting the production, said Narinder Chugh, Managing Director, Million Exporter.
Neeraj Arya, Managing Director, Different Garments said he was coping with 33 per cent of the total workforce. Similarly, Rohan Dheer, Partner, Puneet Knitwear, said he was working on an export consignment with a 30 per cent workforce.