Technical Textiles, A Sunrise Sector in Indian Textile Industry
The Textile Industry is one of the oldest industries in India having a range of segments under its umbrella. The industry is spread from hand-woven, an unorganised segment on one end, to a capital-intensive organised mill sector on the other. One of India’s biggest strengths lies in it being the largest producer of cotton & jute and the second largest producer of Man-made fibres and silk globally.
One of the segments of this industry that has received significant attention across the world is technical textiles. Technical or engineered textiles are defined as products that are used for functional purposes rather than for aesthetic characteristics, having applications across various industries including automobiles, civil engineering and construction, agriculture, medical, shipping, industrial safety, sports and personal protection etc. Based on usage, there are 12 technical textile segments. Technical textile products are manufactured mainly using speciality fibres such as Nomex, Kevlar, Spandex, Glass and Carbon etc. These fibres exhibit enhanced functional properties like higher tenacity, excellent insulation, improved thermal resistance and chemical resistance etc. Hence, these high performance fibers find place in varied industries and applications.
Technical textiles global market is expected to grow from USD 177 billion in 2018 to reach USD 220 billion by 2022. United States of America is the world's largest producer and consumer of technical textiles having 23% share followed by Western Europe having 22 % share, China having 13% and Japan having 7% share. The share of India in world technical textiles market is about 4-5%. As per the Baseline Survey of technical textile industry by Ministry of Textiles, the market size in India for the year 2017-18 is projected as Rs 1,16,217 crore and taking into account the current trend of growth and various initiatives of the government, domestic market size of the technical textiles is expected to cross Rs 2 lakh crores by the year 2020-21.
Over the past ten years, Asia is emerging as a power house both for production and consumption of technical textiles with China being a market leader. Korea, Japan, India and Taiwan are the other key players of technical textiles in Asian continent. The production of technical textiles requires large investment in developing specialised high performance fibre, high technology and modern production facilities. China has already recognised the importance of technical textile both for domestic market as well as for exports, and has taken the necessary initiatives, in this regard, for creation of large capacities in this sector.
In India too, domestic demand is picking up. Companies, in India have started developing technical textiles for automobiles, safety related textiles such as used by soldiers at high attitudes, ballistic fabrics etc. The exports of technical textiles from India stands at Rs 14,013 crore in year 2018-19 and it is expected that it will reach a level of Rs 20,000 crore in next two years. The overall trade deficit, in this sector, has decreased from Rs. 1,100 crores in Jan-June 2018 to Rs. 523 crores in Jan-June 2019. It indicates that technical textile sector in India is doing well and it has the ability to tap global markets.
Technical Textiles sector in India is estimated to be growing at the rate of 12% per annum. In order to achieve the potential of nearly 20% annual growth in this sector, there is a need for proactive approach towards expanding the existing market, promote usage of technical textiles in various Government schemes and programmes, increase awareness among the citizens and institutions in the country. Technical Textile Industry in India is mostly in MSME sector and needs international exposure in technology adoption as well as introduction of new products in the domestic market. Further, using latest technology; going for foreign collaboration and joint ventures; establishing close cooperation with country’s technical institutes; greater investments and developing domestic market for creating demand of technical textiles are some of the measure that are needed to be taken for rapid growth of this sector in the country.
In sum up, the right thrust in the desired direction, can position India as a global leader in production, consumption and a major exporter of technical textiles.
*Upendra Kumar Gupta is Deputy Adviser, NITI Aayog. Views expressed are personal.