CMAI, recently organised a meeting between a delegation of Japan’s importers and exporters with business media and Indian buyers and sellers. The Japanese delegation was headed by Takakazu Kitatani, Director, International Textiles and Clothing Trade Office, Manufacturing Industry Bureau, Government of Japan. Takakazu, shared his views on trade relations between Japan and India. He said, “This visit is an initial step taken by the ministry of economy, trade and industry in Japan. India has a 0.8 per cent share of Japanese textile imports as opposed to some 90-odd per cent from China. So there is an imbalance. Partly as a result of this obvious imbalance, or as a result of growing clout of India in world trade and partly as a result of Japan’s desire to look at countries other than the US and Europe to export its high quality textiles and apparel, Japan has seriously started looking at India.”
As far as the trade transactions between India and Japan are concerned, right now they are very small. But with the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between India and Japan coming into force, the transaction between India and Japan will change drastically. “The EPA will boost the textile and clothing business between the two countries. Under the EPA no customs duty will be levied on imports of textile and clothing products. The share of India in Japan’s total textile and clothing import trade was just one per cent. This share can be increased once the EPA comes into effect. Myanmar, Indonesia, Vietnam, Bangladesh and ASEAN nations are enjoying duty-free status. And with India being given the same status, the supplies of textile and clothing from India to Japan will get new business opportunities. The same would be true of Japanese companies who can expand their foothold in the Indian textile and clothing market especially man-made fibre and fabric companies,” added Takakazu.
Rahul Mehta, president, CMAI, said, “Shortly an Indo-Japan fashion forum will be formed to assist textile and clothing players to understand this business in their respective countries. It will have an advisory board in Japan and an advisory board in India The idea is not just to export Japanese products to India but also to export Indian products to Japan. The idea is also to have some technological partnership or joint ventures etc.” Japan is a high cost economy and one of the ways Japanese products can become more competitive in the world is to have cheaper sources of production. This can be possible to some extent in India. In Japan, the designer segment is the driver of the apparel industry. Mehta added, “In India the designer segment is a small proportion of the total apparel industry. India is led more by the commercial section. If Japan wants to do big business in India, this is the segment they will have to address. Japan will be sending its fashion designers to India to hold exclusive shows during the Lakme Fashion Week in early 2011.”
“One of the objectives of the mission is to make you aware of Japan’s exclusivity in terms of textiles. It’s nice to interact with apparel manufacturers here. We would like to have your feedback on the samples and we will move accordingly,” said Sachiko Inoue, of Direction-Trend Committee for JFW Japan Creation. She added, “We have eco-friendly textiles where colour and matching combinations is been carried. We also have micro fibres. We have techniques of special coatings that gives fabrics a paper feel. Computerized processing has been done. We have different types of weaves.
Besides in 2009 Japan’s textile exports were 714 billion yen and imports were 3023 billion yen. The amount of total apparel imports in 2009 was 2,285,204 million yen. In 2009 China was the top producer of clothing at 1,918,866 million yen. India stood at sixth place with 17,994 million yen. As India and Japan get closer to signing a free trade pact, textile and clothing majors from both the countries are exploring opportunities for boosting bilateral trade. Japan is exploring possibilities of technical and manufacturing collaborations and direct market access between the two countries in the textile and apparel industry. Being a very top-end market, Japanese companies have expertise in producing high quality fabrics and yarns.