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Need to identify national champions, build cluster parks to attract funds in furniture sector: TPCI

New Delhi, May 31 (PTI) The Trade Promotion Council of India (TPCI) on Sunday suggested certain steps such as building cluster parks with appropriate logistics and identification of national champions of the furniture industry, to promote investments in the sector.

TPCI said industry needs to work closely with key buyers with a goal of exporting USD 10 billion worth of furniture by 2024.

These suggestions assume significance as the commerce and industry ministry is working to promote investments in over a dozen sectors, including furniture.

Private companies or land bank owners should be allowed to apply for designated support under the scheme for implementation of the national manufacturing policy for establishing furniture manufacturing zone or cluster, the Council said.

Speaking on the need to create furniture cluster in India, TPCI Chairman Mohit Singla said: 'Recent study of the potential sector has revealed great demand for plug-and-play clusters. They are the only possible means of achieving competitiveness, which is much desired for import substitution and export prowess.' Furniture is clearly a big latent opportunity for India in terms of leveraging export and India has ample land, affordable skilled labour and supporting logistics and warehouse infrastructure, he added.

'After the US has imposed 25 per cent duty on the import of furniture from China, the import to US from China has dropped almost 20 per cent. Furthermore, India enjoys zero duty on all considered products for export of furniture to the US market, which clearly underlines the big advantage to enter America. This is all the more important considering the huge employment potential this sector holds,' he added.

Singla said the global furniture trade is USD 250 billion, both the EU and China export about USD 100 billion of furniture.

The US alone imports USD 72 billion of furniture and is the biggest importer, so there is an opportunity for India to scale its export to the US, he said adding that currently, India is a small player with just USD 1.7 billion worth of exports of furniture.

Further, the Council suggested for more seats in furniture designing courses in the National Institute of Design; a regulator to issue compliant unit inspection and 100 per cent inspection for maintaining quality of exports; facilitate import of raw material and ancillary products at reduced costs; develop a system for certification of locally available raw materials which should be internationally recognized; railway's should provide speedy and cheaper freight for containers shipped from dry ports.

It added that large land banks are needed for furniture park and it should be closer to the sea port so that imported woods can be brought in and export of furniture can take place with lesser time and freight cost.

However, it added that India does not have availability of domestically certified and traceable wood which is recognised by most large international buyers and there is a growing demand for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified wood which is also not available in India. PTI RR HRS