India looks ready to take on the global Technical Textiles market
India has already proven its mettle in the global textile trade in the post-colonial period. The country’s economy is now ready to take a step further and take command over a sister category of textiles that is taking the world by a storm – Technical Textiles.
The advent of new technology and the rising demand for value addition has created a new variety of Technical Textiles. These include fibers and materials that are known for their functional properties and associated utilities and not so much for their aesthetic worth.
For instance, while conventional textiles are used traditionally for clothing or furnishing, technical textiles are used for specific utility purposes based on their physical and functional properties.
Based on user requirements, the technical textile industry has been categorised into 12 key segments -- Agrotech, Buildtech, Clothtech, Geotech, Hometech, Indutech, Meditech, Mobiltech, Oekotech, Packtech, Protech and Sportech.
The Clothtech category refers to products manufactured to meet particular functional requirements of the clothing, garment and footwear industry. The major products in this segment include shoelace interlinings, zip fasteners, elastic fabrics, garments, and umbrella cloth.
Similarly, another category called the Sportech category refers to the technical textile products manufactured for the sports enterprises. The major products in this segment include sports composites and nets, artificial turf, parachute fabrics, sports shoe components, tents and swimwear.
The Packtech segment is also an important category of technical textiles in India. It comprises packaging products which are demanded in the household, agricultural and industrial sectors. The items in this category include synthetic bags, jute bags, etc.
The Hometech segment products are used in the fabrication of household furnishing such as carpets, curtains and wall coverings. These commodities are manufactured using natural and synthetic fibres.
Meanwhile, Agrotech refers to those technical textile products which are utilized in the agriculture, Buildtech refers to commodities majorly manufactured for their usage in the construction and architectural projects, Indutech are industrial textile products, Meditech products are employed in the hygiene and personal care sector, Mobiltech consists of items used in the automotive sector, whereas Oekotech products are used majorly in the field of environmental engineering.
In recent times, all these forms of technical textiles have seen an upward trend globally due to an increase in their end-use applications and on account of their cost-effectiveness, durability, user-friendliness and eco-friendliness.
In India, too, the technical textile market has gained momentum in the last five years and is currently growing at an 8% per annum rate, according to the government estimates released in 2021. India’s target is to hasten this growth to a 15-20% range in the next five years.
Currently, the Indian technical textiles market is dominated by the Packtech segment, followed by Indutech, Hometech and Mobiltech segments. Several domestic players of varied sizes are operating in the industry. But production is largely concentrated in the small-scale segments such as canvas tarpaulin, carpet backing, woven sacks, shoelaces, soft luggage, zip fasteners, stuffed toys, fabrication of awnings, canopies and blinds etc.
Many large international players have also set up their manufacturing facilities in India due to the Indian government’s liberal FDI (foreign direct investment) policy. This is strengthening India’s position not just as a key growth market, but also a significant export player in the sector. In fact, the Indian government announced in 2021 that the time is ripe for the economy to target a five-times increase in export of technical textiles to $10 billion in three years.
India has the advantage of having a strong raw material base of cotton, manmade fibre, silk, wool and jute. Besides that, India possesses excellence in the entire value chain extending from fiber to fabric to garments. This should help it achieve the export target it has set for itself.
To push things in the right direction, the government has taken several measures in the recent past to boost the sector. A National Technical Textiles Mission has been set up that aims at an average growth rate of 15-20% to increase the domestic market size of technical textiles to $40-50 billion by the year 2024.
The government has also dedicated 207 HSN (Harmonised System of Nomenclature) codes to technical textiles to help in monitoring the data of import and export, and in providing financial support and other incentives to manufacturers.
Along with such policy measures, a proactive approach is necessary to expand the existing market. Promoting usage of technical textiles in various government schemes and programs and increasing awareness among the citizens and institutions in the country about Technical Textiles hold the key to the success of this sector in India.