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Even as knitwear garment-makers in Tirupur eye the opportunity to export non-surgical/non-medical masks, exporters in the neighbouring Karur district have expressed their preference to stay focussed on export of home textile products.

“There are units engaged in the making of masks here, but they are only looking to supply in the domestic market,” said the production manager of a home textiles exporting unit in Karur.

Meanwhile, the exporting community in Tirupur has welcomed the amendment in the export policy of mask vide notification dated May 16 and have started acting on it.

Quite a number of units have turned their focus to making of masks with cotton and knitted fabric.

The market, which during the initial weeks of the Covid-19 lockdown, faced huge shortage of masks — surgical and non-surgical— is today flooded with cloth masks, with users looking for exclusivity, more so as wearing of masks is now mandatory.

From designing a mask with the company logo to an imprint of your favourite star and a transparent window to enable lip-reading, makers of cloth masks are trying to innovate and customise the product. The art of mask designing seems to be catching up.

Raja Shanmugam, President, Tirupur Exporters’ Association (TEA), said the industrial climate has started to limp, albeit slowly. “Exporters are now focussing on Spring-Summer sampling works and engaged in completion of the job, which were left half-done due to lockdown.

“Some buyers, however, have sought to put pending orders on hold, citing the change in season as the reason for deferment. Air-lifting of goods would not be economical; at the same time, despatching via the sea route would result in late arrivals (after the season in the respective overseas destination). Our funds are stuck.”

Labour issues

To a query on migrant labourers, he said: “The issue is being politicised. Yes, they are homesick, want to return to their hometown. Their absence will not have any major impact on the industry, as the locals (those in other parts of the State) are wanting to return to work. Since the units are not operating to the optimal capacity, we will be able to manage with the existing workers.”

Published On : 20-05-2020

Source : The Hindu Businessline

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