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Par­tic­i­pat­ing in ex­hi­bi­tions is al­ways a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and be­ing at Gar­tex 2017 was really an ex­cit­ing ex­pe­ri­ence after a long time. Though these are tough times for the in­dus­try, still they all came in large num­bers to the fair with the hope for find­ing some­thing new and dif­fer­ent.

I met many own­ers, CEOs and se­nior man­age­ment from ex­port houses from across the coun­try. Gar­tex 2017 saw par­tic­i­pa­tion of com­pa­nies like Ori­ent Craft, East­man Ex­port, Black­berry, KK Over­seas ( Jaipur) and com­pa­nies from as far as Kolkata, Dehradun and Mo­hali. This was in­spir­ing con­sid­er­ing the fact that the mar­ket for both the seg­ments is not at its best. The ex­porters and domestic man­u­fac­tur­ers are all strug­gling to come to terms with the ef­fect of de­mon­eti­sa­tion and GST. Both these poli­cies have re­duced money flow in the mar­ket and in­creased the need for work­ing cap­i­tal, af­fect­ing busi­ness at var­i­ous other lev­els too.

Through can­did in­ter­ac­tions with all these com­pa­nies, I found that though no one was really com­plain­ing that the poli­cies are bad or not good for the coun­try/in­dus­try, the main grouse was that many grey ar­eas still ex­ist and there is no clar­ity on many crit­i­cal ar­eas – mostly re­lated to 18% GST on job work in the ap­parel seg­ment. While those ex­porters who have all value adding ca­pa­bil­i­ties in-house will be at an ad­van­tage, the mid­dle level and smaller ex­porters who are de­pen­dent on con­trac­tual job work­ers for their value-added pro­cesses will have to bear the in­creased cost...

The other con­cern be­ing re­duc­tion in duty draw­back..., most ex­porters have come for­ward to dis­cuss how the draw­back was their only saviour amongst the sev­eral im­ped­i­ments and had helped to keep their bal­ance sheet in black. But now with the re­duc­tion in the duty draw­back to 3 to 4%, even this last ex­pec­ta­tion is gone.

With Su­rat be­ing prac­ti­cally closed from the beginning of July and grow­ing fear of an­other round of strikes, the sup­ply chain has been hit badly. Dead­lines are go­ing for a toss and hec­tic lob­by­ing is go­ing on to break the dead­lock.

For domestic man­u­fac­tur­ers, since many mar­kets are closed, de­mand is slow since June. And it is no se­cret that both the US and EU are fac­ing dif­fi­cult times…, yet the pos­i­tive part is that the in­dus­try is keen to ex­plore new tech­nolo­gies which will help them to be­come more com­pet­i­tive on value, and the qual­ity visi­ta­tion at Gar­tex is proof of the same! Deepak Mo­hin­dra Edi­tor-in-Chief

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