Responsible management practices by apparel manufacturers will help their integration into global supply chain

Mr. Satoshi Sasaki, Deputy Director, ILO Decent Work Team for South Asia and Country Office for India addressed at the inaugural at the “Knowledge building webinar on productivity management in garments sector and sustainable integration in global supply chain”

Statement | Online Meeting | 04 March 2022

• Madam Srijana, Director, Industries, State Government of Andhra Pradesh
• Mr. Sadiq Alam, Director, Industries, State Government of Odisha
• Officials from the State Department of Industries in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha, and Korean institutions
• My colleagues from the apparel brands, H&M and Marks and Spencer in India, and Porgabe, Korea
• Mr. Narendra Goenka, Chairman, Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC),
• Mr. Woochan Chang, Country Representative, Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) India,
• Colleagues from FICCI, State industry associations and ILO
• And my dear MSME friends from the apparel manufacturing world in both states

Namaste and good afternoon

Firstly, I would like to express my appreciation to the State Government of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha for their commitment to promote the development of the apparel sector and position themselves as a potential sourcing hub in the global map, also as exporters and suppliers to lead brands and e-commerce retails in India and in other countries. I also wish to compliment the efforts being made by the state and the sectoral industry associations, including AEPC as well as, the apparel manufacturers in rising up to the expectations of lead buyers. You can count on the ILO to be with you in this journey to meet your aspirations.

Both Andhra Pradesh and Odisha enjoy a distinct advantage that can propel them forward and naturally progress up the value chain, given the potential of expanding and diversifying to apparel manufacturing. You have ports, land, cotton farms, textiles, and labour. We are familiar with the remarkable growth of Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Indonesia, which enjoy similar advantages and managed to capitalize on them to make a robust garment sector. In recent years, Myanmar, Turkey and Egypt have emerged as sourcing hubs as well, even though, unlike India and especially our southern states, they don’t have a long history in textiles and garments, nor are they blessed with natural cotton or skilled labour.

While a conducive policy and regulatory environment will be critical in determining competitiveness and development of the apparel sector in Andhra and Odisha, the management style and entrepreneurial spirit, which is unique to each enterprise, will decide a manufacturer’s ability to survive in the market and grow. And as this human ability cannot be substituted by technology or artificial intelligence, it underscores the need to invest in the workforce, as the employees are at the heart of all competitive enterprises. In a nutshell, management practices matter as the quality and resource efficiency in production depends upon the skills of and cooperation between the supervisors, managers, and workers.

In the highly competitive apparel market, this assumes greater significance as the sector is witnessing competitive pricing, rapidly changing product or fashion styles, high-quality standards, in addition to the traceability of the shop-floor conditions in which the suppliers are manufacturing. And it also includes their environmental footprint. Organized by the ILO’s PSEI initiative with support from KOICA, I sincerely hope the interaction today will help the understanding of apparel manufacturers on emerging market trends and buyers’ expectations and map necessary calibration measures required in shop-floor operations. You will also be introduced to the SCORE enterprise productivity management training. The ILO, with funding support from KOICA and in partnership with FICCI, we will adopt five interested apparel manufacturers from Andhra and Odisha as a pilot for a year and offer subsidized SCORE training to enhance their productivity.

It takes years to build a reputation and establish credibility in the market, whether as a supplier or a lead buyer. In the sector you operate, only one mistake can prove costly and can become a ripe opportunity for your competitor – be it a fellow enterprise or another state in India or another country. Therefore, good management practices are the key for sustaining productivity and reputation. I am highly encouraged by the presence of brands and AEPC today in this interaction with the apparel manufacturers. Their willingness to come forward and engage in this dialogue is very welcome. It is a small, yet important step, in enlightening and handholding the manufacturers towards the development of the sector in the states.

I look forward to the deliberations today and in supporting you in translating the learnings into concrete actions. Thank you very much for your attention.