India Lauds Partnering

U.S.-China-India Ventures Leverage Natural Strengths

Brent Felgner, October 2, 2006

New York — ­The event at the Consulate General of India in New York was billed as an “extraordinary opportunity” for companies and investors to interact with the policymakers of the Indian textile industry. The recent gathering was led by D.P. Singh, Secretary of the Ministry of Textiles; and included presentations by Dr. V.S. Seshadri, Minister (Commercial) of the Embassy of India, Washington, D.C; and Ms. Neelan Deo, Consul General in New York. Secretary Singh agreed to speak with Home Textiles Today contributing editor Brent Felgner. Excerpts from the interview:

HTT: Mr. Secretary, how would you position India in the global textiles marketplace, and the opportunities for doing more business with the United States?

Singh: In terms of the natural strength in the textiles sector, which India enjoys, whether it is natural fibers or in synthetic fibers, I look at the next two to three years as a time when technology will drive the textile industry and which will be characterized by a tremendous cotton and synthetic fiber consumption. It will also be characterized by a highly valued and design-oriented apparel and garment sector.

HTT: What are the market pressures that India must deal with in order to achieve the most effective position it can in the worldwide economy?

Singh: I don't like to call it pressures but more opportunities and challenges. Somehow the global debate in the textiles sector has become an undercurrent of what is happening in China, or what is happening in India. The time has come when all the countries and participants in the global textile trade [should] go beyond their own boundaries and look in terms of opportunities, which can be best met by their most competitive production practices. The world is large enough to take care of everybody.

One doesn't have to be affected by what the other fellow is doing. If he is doing better, am I supposed to be doing badly? I suppose we are in a situation where both can be doing well, and together they can both be useful for the rest of the world.

HTT: Since trade barriers have been lifted, we've been struck by companies from various countries really talking about going to their core competencies and then joint venturing with others in the world — for example, Indian companies partnering more with Chinese firms, as well as U.S. companies, going forward. Is that something that holds greater opportunity?

Singh: I do see it. One part of the joint venture is the technology transfer; another is the modern, up-to-date machinery. Now every country in today's environment need not fund this research de novo. The time has come when every country can partner, and see which is the area they can benefit in the maximum, by taking from outside.

It is better to partner with such companies that can take care of the marketing; which can provide the market intelligence. And, at the same time, the machinery that the U.S. companies are not putting to full use can be [exploited] for relocation, which can be based on the strength of the Indian textile industry, in terms of efficient labor and design capabilities. And added to that the market intelligence and marketing experience of the U.S. companies, it provides a very useful meeting ground for both of them in capital sharing — the investment of capital, along with the investment in opportunities — both can gain from that.

HTT: Months and years before the removal of trade barriers, countries around the world, and in particular, companies in India, were very worried about the impact China would have on world textile markets. With the benefit of hindsight, have any of those fears been realized?

Singh: It's been much less. I was recently in China and in meetings with my counterparts and there was a great reckoning about each of us. But I'm happy to say that while [those concerns] may have been there at one point in time, I see a very healthy environment of cooperation and helping each other and selectively growing in world markets. So at the end of the day it's the consumer who gains.

HTT: What are you hoping to accomplish with presentations such as this one at the consulate?

Singh: The mission of our entire visit is to apprise our friends and colleagues of where our textile industry is — at what stage it is — and where it is aiming to go in the coming years, and how we could be good partners to each of them in this entire roadmap. I think the amount of interest and curiosity is very good. What lies ahead now is more concrete responses.

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