Apparel & Handloom Exporters Association against further Lockdowns

 The Hon. Secretary of the Apparel &Handloom Exporters Association, the industry body for over 400 MSME apparelexporters from Tamil Nadu, Shri Nishanth Jain “appeals” to the Honourable ChiefMinister of Tamil Nadu, not to extend the lockdown and to help save thelivelihoods of 1.5 lakh women workers who work in their factories.  ·       
Chennai,Kanchipuram, Chengalpattu, Thiruvallur, Madurai and Salem districts are home toover 400 MSME apparel manufacturing and exporting companies which have beenhere for 35-40 years.·        Thesecompanies service the requirements of international clothing retailers andbrands. The business of apparel exports in “seasonal” in nature where supplyinggoods on time is key to the fulfillment of the contract. Winter goods cannot besold in summer and vice-versa. There are huge penalties for delay. Thedependability of the supplier is judged on basis of “on-time” deliveries incorrect quality. ·     
The combined direct employment by these companies is approximately 1.5 lakhsworkers, 90% of whom are women. These are highly skilled and trained workerswho only know how to stitch and make clothes. They have no other source oflivelihood. These workers earn on average between Rs. 9000 to Rs. 11000 permonth. ·       
Besidesthese direct workers, the ancillary industries of yarn mills, weavers,processing mills,dyestuff making, labels and tags mfg, corrugated boxes mfgunits, printers, embroidery units etc. employ over 10 lakh people in the state of Tamil Nadu. ·       
From thelockdown in March 2020 till mid May 2020 the industry has already undergonehuge losses on account of order cancellations by many international clients.After restarting most of the companies have managed to resurrect part of theorders with great difficulty on the condition of timely deliveries which hadalready been delayed due to the initial 50+ days lockdown. ·       
The postlockdown norms of social distancing have already resulted in curtailment of thecapacities of all these factories. ·       
The goodsbeing manufactured by these companies have to be exported between June andSeptember so that they can be put up in the overseas shops from August to Novemberin time for the holiday season and Christmas.·       
If thesegoods are late the overseas clients will cancel these orders too and be verywary of placing orders with these companies in Tamil Nadu. Most of the clientswill move to competing nations like China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Sri Lanka andCambodia for sourcing their requirements. Once these clients move out to othernations and vendors it will be extremely difficult to bring them back. Thiswould deal a deathblow to the industry and the lakhs of people it directlyemploys. ·       
This 12days lockdown in Chennai, Kanchipuram, Chengalpattu and Thiruvallur has causedimmense delays and fallouts with the international clients who have now notbeen able to get the deliveries of the goods they were supposed to get by the endof June. This 12 days lockdown will now have a cascading effect on thedeliveries of goods committed for July, August and September. ·       
Anyfurther lockdowns in Chennaiand its surrounding districts will result in a veryhuge number of order cancellations (approx. USD 150 million) for these exportcompanies and a complete loss of faith by the international clients on thefactories located in Tamil Nadu. They will not find the factories dependable tosupply goods on time, and will hence move out to the competing countries tosource their goods for subsequent months.·       
The resultof this will be catastrophic – shut down situation for 400+ MSME units directlyinvolved in the apparel manufacturing and exporting activity and also ofhundreds of more ancillary units. The largest fallout will be the resultantunemployment of lakhs of skilled workers who only know how to do one job and inan adverse economic climate like this will not have the fallback of findingjobs in any other industry too. The ripple effect on the state economy will bedevastating. ·       
Theindustry expects the government to understand the long term disaster it willcause by extending the lockdown or having any further lockdown and which willultimately land up killing an industry that has been the mainstay for millionsof workers and the largest employer after agriculture in the state for over 40years.