Chennai: T-Shirts without buttons, shorts without zippers. This is the peculiar situation garment exporters in Tirupur are pushed to, unwittingly, as customs officials sit on Chinese consignments containing millions of zippers, buttons and embroidery accessories without clearing them.

India has intensified an economic blockade “unofficially”, aimed at hurting Chinese businesses as it pushes Indian businesses to source parts and components locally after 20 soldiers were killed by Chinese troops in Galwan valley mid-June.

“We have not been able to get customs clearance for nearly 20 days. We have run out of materials to complete the garment. The operations are managed by just-in-time inventory,’ said Raja M Shanmugham, President, Tirupur Exporters Association (TEA), the apex body of garment exporters of Tirupur. Nearly 90% of Tirupurs accessory requirements are from China.

“It is reached a panic situation, because of this mindless act. Payments for these goods have already been made and they are lying in Bengaluru and Chenani airport customs, besides at Chennai Port. No official has an answer,” Shanmugham said. His firm, Warsaw International is waiting for Bengaluru Airport customs to clear buttons and badges for him to complete his pending orders. TEA has shot off letters to union ministers of commerce and industry and also union finance minister seeking their immediate intervention.

“At present we can make T-Shirts without buttons and shorts without zippers and ladies inner wear without embroidery,” an exporter quipped. “My clearing agent in Chennai has stopped picking up my calls,” said Amit Hurkat, Kanta Innovations, importers of garment accessories incuding zippers, buttons and embroidery badges. His 25 clients are waiting for these buttons to finish their orders. “It is not just knitwear that is getting impacted, even manufacture of PPE kits is affected,” Hurkat added. Two shipments, one in Chennai port, should have reached him in Tirupur 10 days ago, while the second is still in high seas heading to Chennai port. “Covid killed orders early on and now when we are looking for something to cling on to, this blockade has erupted. This will suck whatever little is left in us,” he said. Its not just exporters who are wits end. Even PPE makers are stuck. “We imported some cutters through Fedex. Its is in Bengaluru airport waiting to be cleared. Without those cutters we cannot operate the machine which makes PPEs. This is terrible,” said R Shanmuga Nathan, Innovative India Private Ltd. With nearly six lakh workers, Tirupur knits nearly Rs 55,000 crore worth garments for both domestic market and exports.

Published On : 01-07-2020

Source : Times of India

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