Meeting Eco-Requirements for Export: Example of Indian Textiles

Article excerpt

Ecological considerations are becoming important factors in the marketing of consumer goods, including textiles, all over the world. Exporters of textile goods must therefore be in a position to adapt their products and processing techniques to comply with new environmental regulations being introduced in their target markets. The Government of India has been highly conscious of the need to support producers and exporters m meeting these market requirements. A case in point concerns new regulations scheduled to come into effect in Germany and also possibly in the rest of the European Union on the use of certain dyes in textile products. This example illustrates how governments can work with the business community to facilitate their export operations.

New market requirements

As a measure to protect humans and the environment from harmful substances, Germany is planning either later this year or early next to prohibit the import of textile goods containing certain types of dyes. The dyes in question are "azo" dyes that could release any of 20 specified harmful amines. The same ban may eventually be adopted for the European Union as a whole. The following articles are covered by the provisions: garments, home textiles (especially bedclothes and towels), leather clothing, other clothing, upholstery fabrics, leather components of furniture, seatcovers, children's seats, shoes, belts, costume jewelry and other items such as watch straps, eyeglass frames, headphones, hairpieces, bandages and covers for sports equipment.

The new regulations will affect all countries that export textiles to this market, as well as German producers, traders and importers, and violation of the provisions can be prosecuted as a criminal offense.

As Germany is one of India's largest markets for garments and textiles (approximately 10% of India's exports of textiles and textile goods go to this country, and over 50% are sold to the European Union as a whole) and as about 70% of the dyes manufactured and used for textile processing in India are "azo" dyes, out of which 25% are banned (190 different types in total), the impact of the new regulations will be strong on the country's textile sector.

Government action

To help textile producers and exporters meet this new challenge, the Government recently set up two committees, one with representatives of the concerned ministries, departments and organizations, and the other comprising a core group of textile technologists. The two committees collected information and then took swift action in deliberating the implications of the various issues in the Indian context, with reference to the existing usage in India of the dyes and pigments to be prohibited, on the one hand, and the significant level of Indian textile exports to Germany, on the other.

These committees considered four aspects of the question: dissemination of information to the trade and industry; legal measures to be adopted; research and development work on the identification of substitutes; and creation of reliable testing facilities. The action taken on these four is given below.

Information dissemination

One of the steps that the committees recommended was to request the export promotion councils, research associations, the Development Commissioner for handlooms and handicrafts, the Central Silk Board, the Jute Commissioner, the Textiles Committee, the Khadi and Village Industries Commission, state governments, powerloom associations, the Indian Cotton Mills Federation, the Federation of Indian Exports Organization and garment export associations to inform all of their members and constituents of the regulations. These organizations were also asked to produce pamphlets, leaflets and other publicity material (in both English and local languages) so that all sectors of the textile industry would be fully informed of the substances suitable for the manufacture of export products, particularly to Germany. …