The coronavirus outbreak in China has in a way proved beneficial for India’s largest man-made fabric (MMF) sector in Surat, where power loom weavers are targeting to ramp up polyester fabric production, which is likely to increase by about 20 per cent as the import of cheap fabric from China has stopped, according to industry insiders in the city.

The weavers are also expecting a reduction in cheaper import of fabrics from Vietnam and Bangladesh after the government announced stringent checks on such imports under free trade agreements (FTA) and the revision of ‘rules of origin’ to protect the domestic industry, according to a report.

The orders for fabric in Surat have increased and this is expected to raise production from 3 cr mtr per day to more than 3.5 cr mtr, said Federation of Indian Art Silk Weaving Industry (FIASWI) Chairman Bharat Gandhi. China was dumping cheap silk, viscose, polyester and nylon fabrics worth rs. 200 cr per month, he added.

Surat’s MMF sector consumes about one lakh metric tonnes of yarn per month. The industry has an installed capacity of 7.5 lakh power loom machines, which includes highly sophisticated water jet, rapier and air jet looms.

The import of fabric from China, Vietnam and Bangladesh into India increased from 207 mn metric tonnes in 2015-2016 to 1,300 MMT in 2018-19, which severely affected the local industry.

The Chinese fabrics are cheaper by rs. 46 per square metre compared to the fabric manufactured in Surat and other places, said Dinesh Zaveri, Secretary of the Surat Art Silk Cloth Manufacturers Association (SASCMA).