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Editorial Articles


Issue no 42, 14- 20 January 2023

Technical Textiles Growth Engine of India's Textile Sector

Jyoti Tiwari

Technical textiles are materials and products that are specifically designed for their technical and performance properties, rather than for their decorative or aesthetic qualities. These textiles are used in a wide range of industries, including construc-tion, transport, agriculture, medi-cal, hygiene, and sports. The global technical textiles market is segmented as follows: (i) By Material: Natural Fiber, Synthetic Polymer, Regenerated Fiber, Mineral, Metal (ii) By Process: Woven, Knitted, Non-woven (iii) By Application: Transport Tex-tiles, Medical and Hygiene Textiles, Industrial Products and Components, Agriculture, Horticulture, and Fishing, Home Textiles, Clothing Components, Packaging and Containment. By application, technical textiles can be classified into several categories: 

·         Meditech textiles: used in the medical industry, such as surgical gowns, masks, and other medical equipment. 

·         Mobiltech textiles: used in the transportation industry, such as tires and vehicle interiors. 

·         Oekotech textiles: are environmentally friendly, or "eco-friendly." These textiles may be made from sustainable materials and designed to minimize their environmental impact during production, use, and disposal. 

·         Packtech textiles: used for packaging, such as bags and wrappers.

·         Protech textiles: used for protection, such as protective clothing, helmet liners, and airbags.

·         Sportech textiles: used in the sports industry, such as sports equipment and athletic clothing. 

·         Agrotech textiles: used in agriculture, such as crop covers, irrigation systems, and silage covers. 

·         Buildtech textiles: used in construction and civil engineering applications, such as erosion control, drainage, and reinforcement. 

·         Clothtech textiles: used in clothing, such as athletic wear and protective suits.

·         Geotech textiles: used in geotechnical applications, such as slope stabilization and soil erosion control. 

·         Hometech textiles: used in home furnishings, such as curtains, bedding, and upholstery.

Global Market Size

Technical textiles market size was valued at US$ 169 Billion in 2021 and is estimated to surpass US$ 230 Billion by 2028 exhibiting a 4.8% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) from 2022-2028. The growth drivers mainly include the rising demand for automotive and rail transport across Asia Pacific, medical disposables and PPE kits, construction industry in North America, and the rising demand from the packaging industry, according to Global Market Insights.

The Asia-Pacific region accounts for the largest share of the technical textile market, capturing 40% of the global market, followed by North America at 25% and Western Europe at 22%. This is due in part to the rapid urbanisation and technological advancements in the medical, automotive, and construction industries in the region, as well as supportive government policies and lowcost labour for production. Previously, the European Union led in technical textile production and consumption from 2007 to 2013, due to the proximity of Techtex producers to major European car manufacturers and a unique product nomination process that led to the presence of European Techtex products in various export markets worldwide. However, production has declined since 2013, particularly in France and Spain. The sector is now dominated by China, followed by the USA. Germany and Italy occupy the third and fourth position closely followed by Japan and Korea.

India’s Market Size

The technical textiles market in India is currently valued at $19 Billion and has been growing at a CAGR of 12% over the past five years. It makes up about 0.7% of India's GDP and 13% of the country's total textile and apparel market. In the 2017- 2018 fiscal year, the Packtech segment had the highest market share at 41%, followed by Indutech at 11%, Hometech at 10%, and Mobiltech at 10%. Availability of raw materials such as cotton, wood, jute and silk along with a strong value chain, low cost labour, power and changing consumer trends are some of the contributing factors to India’s growth in this sector. By undertaking various promotional activities, India aims to achieve a market size of US$ 40 Billion and export of US$ 10 Billion by 2024-25.

Export/Import Overview

Some technical textile products that are not highly research and development (R&D) intensive, such as flexible intermediate bulk containers, tarpaulins, jute carpet backing, hessian, fishnets, surgical dressings, and crop covers, have captured a significant share of overall exports. However, the technical textile industry in India is still dependent on imports for some products, including diapers, polypropylene spun-bond fabric for disposables, wipes, protective clothing, hoses, and webbing for seat belts. In India, production of technical textiles is primarily concentrated in the small-scale sector, including the manufacture of canvas tarpaulins, carpet backing, woven sacks, shoelaces, soft luggage, zip fasteners, stuffed toys, and the fabrication of awnings, canopies, and blinds. According to official figures, India exported technical textiles worth US$ 2843.93 Million in financial year 2021-22 as compared to US$ 1774.65 Million in 2013-14.

The technical textiles sector in India relies heavily on imports of specialty fibers, which make up 30% of the fibers used in technical textiles. These fibers are characterised by their light weight, durability, and thermal stability and have seen increasing demand due to these properties. A lack of necessary technology and a weak research and development ecosystem have been barriers to domestic production. Additionally, fiscal anomalies such as the imposition of excise duties on raw materials and the lack of exemptions on finished products have raised costs and discouraged domestic production. According to official figures, India imported US$ 2459.63 Million technical textiles in financial year 2021-22 as compared to US$ 1492.31 Million in 2013-14. The UAE is the leading exporter of specialty fibres to India of which 99.38% is constituted by Ultra-HighMolecular-Weight- Polyethylene (UHMWP). Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Iran are other countries that export UHMWP to India.

Why and How is India Promoting Technical Textiles Sector?

Technical textiles are a subset of the larger textile industry and have gained prominence in recent years due to advancements in technology that have improved the functionality of textile products. These products have found applications in various industries, including defence, railways, automobiles, and healthcare, and are used globally due to their advantages. Technical textile products have been adopted more widely in economically developed countries like the USA, EU, Japan, and South Korea, while their use is consistently increasing in industrial countries such as China and India.

In recognition of the importance of promoting the technical textile, the Government of India has launched several programs to support the sector, including the creation of manufacturing, testing, and research infrastructure, as well as providing capital and interest subsidies for setting up technical textile plants. Under the Technology Mission on Technical Textiles (TMTT), the Government has also organised Technotex summits to bring together industry stakeholders and promote India as a global destination for technical textiles.

KEY INITIATIVES

National Technical Textile Mission (NTTM)

With a view to position the country as a global leader in technical textiles, National Technical Textiles Mission (NTTM) has been approved with a four-year implementation period from FY 2020-21 to 2023- 24 with a total outlay of Rs. 1,480 crores. The aim of the mission is to grow the domestic market at the rate of 15-20 percent per annum and take the overall market size to US$ 40-50 Billion by the year 2024. The mission also aims at to maintain an average annual growth of 10 percent in exports till 2023-24.

Under NTTM, 74 research proposals valuing Rs.232 cr have been approved in the category of speciality fibre and technical textile, according to the Ministry of Textiles Year End Review for the year 2022. The Mission has four components:

Component-I (Research, Innovation and Development)– With an outlay of Rs 1000 crores, fundamental research activities are being undertaken. Such activities are based on ‘pooled resource’ method and are being conducted in various Centre for Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) laboratories, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and other scientific/ industrial/ academic laboratories of repute. Application based research are being conducted in CSIR, IIT, Research Design & Standards Organisation (RDSO) of Indian Railways, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), National Aeronautical Laboratory (NAL), Indian Road Research Institute (IRRI) and other such reputed laboratories, as approved by the Mission Steering Group.

According to the Ministry of Textiles, so far, 74 research proposals worth Rs 232 Crores in different application areas of technical textiles including Geotech, Agrotech, Specialty fibres, Protech, etc. have been approved to premier institutions like IITs/ NITs/ Textile Research Associations (TRAs) with industry partners in most of them. More than 500 BIS Standards have been developed on technical textiles and BIS is working on developing 40 more such standards as per requirement of industry.

Component–II (Promotion and Market Development) - The penetration level of technical textiles is low in India. The Mission aims at increasing average growth rate through market development, market promotion, international technical collaborations, investment promotions and ‘Make in India’ initiatives. Rs 50 crores have been earmarked for this purpose.

Component – III (Export Promotion) - The component aims at export promotion of technical textiles with a budgetary outlay of Rs 10 crores for four years. The mission envisages setting up of an Export Promotion Council for Technical Textiles for effective coordination and promotion activities in the segment. In September 2022, the Government assigned the role of export promotion of technical textiles to SRTEPC (Synthetic and Rayon Textile Export Promotion Council).

Component-IV (Education, Training, Skill Development)– This component focuses on imparting advanced technical education and skilling in technical textiles, catering to the manufacture as well as the application areas. (i) The mission aims to churn out skilled under-graduate students in engineering, medicine, design, agriculture, aquaculture, sports & lifestyle, fashion technology, (ii) Train unskilled persons prior to their employment in technical textiles manufacturing units (iii) Upskilling / reskilling of already employed technical manpower for skill level categories 5 and above (iv) Training and skilling of personnel employed in all application areas of technical textiles e.g. paramedics, agricultural, railways/roadways. With Rs 400 crores earmarked for this component, skill development will be promoted, and adequate pool of highly skilled manpower resources will be created for meeting the need of relatively sophisticated technical textiles manufacturing units.

On January 5th, 2023, the Ministry of Textiles approved two guidelines for the National Technical Textiles Mission's Flagship Programme. The first guideline pertains to the enabling of academic institutions to offer technical textiles degree programs and updating existing programs with technical textiles coursework. The second guideline, the General Guidelines for Grant for Internship Support in Technical Textiles (GIST), involves the empanelment of eligible companies and the implementation of internships. The guidelines puts emphasis on creating an effective and worldclass knowledge ecosystem to make India a world leader in the field of Technical Textiles in the next decade. It will support in creating quality manpower, especially industry-trained engineers and professionals, and highly skilled workmen both for manufacturing and application areas of technical textiles along with fostering academia - industry linkages.

Key highlights of the guidelines are as follows:

(i)                 General Guidelines for Enabling of Academic Institutes in Technical Textiles- for Private & Public Institutes  

 

·         It aims to incentivize Universities and Institutions to introduce full time degree courses in Technical Textiles (UG & PG) and updating of existing conventional degree programmes with new papers of Technical Textiles.  

·         Institutions will receive grant of upto Rs 20 Crores for introducing full time PG course in Technical Textiles and Rs 10 Crores for UG course in Technical Textiles.  

·         Grant upto Rs 7.5 crores may be given for introducing Technical Textiles as a compulsory subject .

·         Funding will cover the upgradation/enhancement of laboratory equipment, training of lab personnel and specialized training of faculty members of the relevant department/specialization in the University/Institute that exhibit interest in introducing such degree programmes.  

·         This will cover public funded institutions and also private institutions having NIRF (National Institute Ranking Framework) ranking.  

·         The Ministry of Textiles intends to develop an eco-system that will support education in technical textiles not only the field of textiles designing and engineering but other disciplines of engineering like civil, mechanical, electronics etc., and in agriculture institutes, medical colleges, and fashion institutes.

(ii)               General Guidelines for Grant for Internship Support in Technical Textiles (GIST)  

 

·         Eligible companies will be empanelled for the Ministry of Textiles supported Internship Program, wherein the grant of upto Rs 20,000 per student per month shall be provided to the companies.

·         B.Tech students of eligible private/ public institutes will be able to undergo such internships.  

·         Textile industries with turnover of more than Rs 10 Crores, Textile Research Associations under the Ministry of Textiles and textile machinery manufactures will be eligible for empanelment.

TECHNOTEX

TECHNOTEX is a major annual event in India focused on technical textiles. It includes an international exhibition, conference, and seminars, and serves as a platform for interaction among stakeholders from the global technical textile value chain. It is jointly organised by the Ministry of Textiles and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) and serves as an opportunity for Indian and foreign companies from the technical textile value chain to come together and explore trade and investment opportunities. Recently, the Ministry of Textiles announced that Technotex 2023 will be held in Mumbai from 22nd to 24th February 2023. The event will be focused on providing its attendees access and networking opportunities to meet top CEOs, manufacturers, industry peers, purchase managers and suppliers from India and around the globe.

HSN Code

The Harmonised System of Nomenclature (HSN) codes are used to classify goods and products, including technical textiles, for the purpose of taxation. HSN codes are standardised internationally and are used by customs authorities around the world to facilitate the trade of goods. HSN codes for technical textiles in India are assigned based on the nature of the product and its intended use. The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) is responsible for the assignment and maintenance of HSN codes. There are several advantages to using HSN codes, including: z

·         Standardisation: HSN codes are standardised internationally, making it easier for businesses to trade goods with other countries.  

·         Simplification: HSN codes help to simplify the classification of goods, which can make it easier for businesses to understand their tax obligations and facilitate trade.

·         Transparency: The use of HSN codes helps to ensure transparency in the classification of goods and products, making it easier for businesses to understand their tax obligations and for customs authorities to enforce tax laws.  

·         Efficiency: HSN codes can help to streamline the trade process by providing a clear and consistent system for classifying goods and products.  

·         Data collection: HSN codes can be used to collect data on the trade of goods and products, which can be useful for businesses, governments, and other stakeholders to understand trends and patterns in trade.

100% FDI

The Government of India has allowed 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) in the technical textiles sector under the automatic route. This policy is intended to facilitate higher integration of technology into manufacturing processes and end products. Leading global manufacturers of technical textiles products will thus be able to establish manufacturing units in India, either alone or through partnerships with Indian industries. Several Central and State Government agencies are working towards providing the necessary information to potential investors. These efforts have borne fruit, as several international technical textile manufacturers, like Ahlstrom, Johnson & Johnson, Du Pont, Procter & Gamble, 3M, SKAPS, Kimberly Clark, Terram, Maccaferri, Strata Geosystems, have initiated operations in India.

PLI Scheme

India has taken a firm step towards dominance in the global textile market with the introduction of the PLI (Production Linked Incentive Scheme). The main thrust of this scheme is to achieve the apex leverage in attaining the scale of economies in man-made fibre (MMF), technical textiles. The production-linked methodology will help catapult Indian corporate companies to emerge as the top champions in the heavily crowded space of international textile competition. As part of the scheme, textile mills will be evaluated in terms of their manpower and infrastructure, and those identified as needing improvement will receive policy-guided upgrades and training in the latest skills used in countries like China, Thailand, and the Philippines. Additionally, the introduction of MMF and technical textiles is expected to stimulate economic activity, leading to increased trade and employment.

PM-MITRA

Pradhan Mantri Mega Integrated Textile Region and Apparel Parks (PM-MITRA) notified in October 2021 envisages setting up 7 Mega Textiles Parks in the country over a period of 3 years with a budget of Rs. 4,445 crore. The goal of this scheme is to create a comprehensive, large-scale, modern industrial infrastructure for the entire value chain of the textile industry in India. This will improve the competitiveness of the Indian textile industry by reducing logistics costs and make India more attractive to investors. The scheme is expected to create new jobs and position India strongly in the global textile market. The parks will be situated in areas that are well-suited for the success of the textile industry and have the necessary connections to thrive. Such parks will be developed by a Special Purpose Vehicle which will be owned by State Government and Government of India in a Public-Private Partner-ship (PPP) Mode. SPV in which State Government has majority ownership will be entitled to receive part of the lease rental from developed industrial sites and will be able to use that for further expansion of the textiles industry in the area by expanding the PM-MITRA Park, providing skill development initiatives and other welfare measures for workers. As per media reports, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Punjab have shown interest in this scheme.

Story: How India Became World’s Success 2nd Largest Producer of PPE

The COVID-19 pandemic presented a major challenge to the world in late 2019. The World Health Organisation declared it a global health emergency on January 30, 2020 and a global pandemic on March 11, 2020. In response, the Indian Government quickly activated an emergency response in order to minimise the impact of the virus. There was a sudden need for body coveralls, a type of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), to protect healthcare professionals treating COVID-19 patients. Prior to March 2020, India did not manufacture coveralls suitable for use against COVID-19 and had to import them from China, the US, and Europe. In January 2020, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare approached the Ministry of Textiles seeking support to develop domestic sources of PPE, including body coveralls and N-95 masks. The two Ministries launched outreach programs and invited fabric and garment manufacturers to produce suitable products on an emergency basis. Initially, only one laboratory in Coimbatore had the testing facilities to conduct the necessary synthetic blood penetration test, but by April 2020, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) had set up a similar facility in Delhi. As a result of the Government’s efforts, by April 2020 there were 106 indigenous units producing coveralls, with a daily production rate of over 450,000 units. India is now the second largest producer of PPE in the world and has sufficient surplus production to meet export demand as well. The country has turned the crisis into an opportunity and has become a global leader in PPE pro-duction, supporting the National Technical Textiles Mission as well as the "Make in India" initiative and furthering its goal of becoming self-reliant.

Conclusion

According to IIT Delhi’s baseline survey of India’s technical textile industry, Government interventions to support the growth of the technical textiles industry have immensely contributed to job creation. Currently, 21% of the workforce in the technical textile industry is semi-skilled and 28% is unskilled. The National Technical Textiles Mission (NTTM) has arranged for the skill development of 50,000 people in the technical textiles field. Based on a projection of a 4% growth rate in employment in the technical textiles industry from 2019-2020 to 2024-2025, it is estimated that the industry will employ 14.78 lakh people by 2024-2025. Moreover, technical textiles are evolving at a rapid pace due to research and development efforts in both material and production technologies. Developments that have happened in other areas such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, material science, electronics and information technology have facilitated innovations by technical textiles companies that are continuously developing products to meet challenging functional requirements. This trend of developing new technologies and products is likely to continue as new areas for application of technical textiles keep getting discovered.

(The author is a Delhi-based web content writer. She can be contacted at jyotitiwarijune5@gmail.com) Views expressed are personal.