Recently, the new Quality control orders (QCO) have been issued for fibres and have been made mandatory for a few.
About the Orders:
Quality Control Orders (QCO) have been issued for fibres — cotton, polyester and viscose — that constitute the basic raw materials for majority of the Indian textile and clothing industry.
While the standards were available earlier too, these are now revised and made mandatory for a few, and yet to be finalised for others.
International manufacturers of these fibres, who supply to India, are also mandated to get a certificate from the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), which is the certifying authority for the QCOs.
Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS):
The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), the national standard body of India, is responsible for the harmonious development of activities of standardisation, marking and quality certification of goods.
The BIS was established under the BIS Act, 2016 for the harmonious development of the activities of standardisation, marking and quality certification of goods.
The standards are likely to include specifications on size, connectors, specification and minimum quality of the products.
The following schemes of certification are covered under BIS:
Product Certification Scheme– Applicable for tangible products; with some products classified under compulsory certification.
System Certification Scheme– Applicable for systems/ process
Foreign Manufacturers Certification Scheme - Applicable for foreign manufacturers who are engaged in the sale of their products in India.
Hallmarking – Applicable for articles made from precious metals like gold and silver
ECO Mark Scheme – Applicable for products affecting or related to the environment
Why are fibres covered under QCOs?
The Indian textile and clothing industry consumes both indigenous and imported fibres and filaments.
The imports are for different reasons — cost competitiveness, non-availability in the domestic market, or to meet a specified demand of the overseas buyer.
The main aim of the QCO is to control import of sub-quality and cheaper items and to ensure that customers get quality products.
The entire supply chain, from the textile manufacturers to exporters, has so far focused on quality standards prescribed by the buyers.
What challenges does the new mandate bring?
High Costs: Getting the certificate from the BIS involves a cost and hence not all are interested in getting the certificate.
Trade disruption: The Indian textile manufacturers who are dependent on suppliers for the raw material will have to either look at other suppliers or lose orders.
For instance, a bed linen exporter in Tiruppur district imports polyester filament with functional properties from Turkey based on the demand of his European buyers. Though the imported filament constitutes just 6% of the product, the buyer has specified the source for the filament.
Since the Turkey Company is not interested in getting the BIS certificate, the exporter in Tiruppur has lost an order to Pakistan.
Tardy process: BIS officials have to visit the manufacturing unit abroad before issuing the certificate and this process is yet to be completed for all suppliers who have applied for the BIS registration.
Lack of Clarity: There is no clarity on the fibres that were shipped before the certification and which will reach India in the coming days.
Value chain disruption: The textile buyers, be it domestic or international, have established a supply chain over the years and when there are constraints because of certification, the value chain is disrupted.
The textile industry imports just small quantities of such fibres and restricting its availability will deny Indian consumers of niche products.
The textile industry is of the view that import of speciality fibres that are used as blends with other fibres should be made available without restriction.
Also, any overseas applicant for the BIS certificate should get it without delay after inspection.
Polyester spun yarn mills in the MSME sector need capital support to set up labs to test products. The QCO should be implemented only after the ambiguities are cleared and the anomalies set right