Indian footwear industry in dark on QCO compliance, needs more time

The Indian government is prepared to implement a Quality Control Order (QCO) on footwear made from leather and other materials. However, the traditional Indian industry, which is dominated by cottage and MSME units, is facing difficulties as they are not prepared to comply with the order. The Indian industry believes that standardising footwear products will take at least two years if the government consults with industry organisations before taking action. 

The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, under the ministry of commerce and industry, issued a notification on June 3, 2022, regarding the enforcement of the order. The decision is set to take effect on July 1, 2023, giving the industry less than three months to comply with the standardisation. The notification prescribes Indian standards for a range of footwear, including leather safety boots and shoes, canvas shoes with rubber soles, canvas boots with rubber soles, safety rubber canvas boots for miners, leather safety footwear with direct moulded rubber or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) soles, sports footwear, high ankle tactical boots with PU-rubber soles, anti-riot shoes, and derby shoes. The QCO will apply to both domestically manufactured and imported footwear. 

Indian government is ready to enforce a QCO for footwear made from leather and other materials from July 1, 2023.
However, the traditional industry is struggling to comply due to a lack of infrastructure.
The industry needs at least two years to comply with the order, Rajiv Wasan told Fibre2Fashion.
PHDCCI has requested 8-10 months for the implementation.

According to industry organisations, the footwear industry is still in the dark even after ten months. Agra, one of India’s most active footwear hubs, is home to many cottage and MSME units. These manufacturing units are primarily operated by the owner with the assistance of family members, friends, or a few workers. They lack the necessary infrastructure to comply with the standards. 

Rajiv Wasan, general secretary of Agra Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters Chambers, told Fibre2Fashion, “Government authorities expect in-house testing facilities in manufacturing units, but cottage and small units cannot maintain such facilities. They need common facilities nearby. The industry is in the dark, and small unit owners are even unaware of the developments.” 

Wasan mentioned that a conference was recently held to discuss the implementation of the QCO. However, he believes that it will be very challenging to enforce it at present. If the government proceeds with the enforcement, it will result in the destruction of stocks worth crores of rupees, which will be catastrophic for thousands of shoe manufacturers. He categorically stated that the industry needs at least two years to comply with the order. Recently, the government has only given a two-month grace period. Wasan suggested that the authorities should focus on standardising raw materials first instead of just finished products. 

Recently, the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI) urged the government to provide an additional 8-10 months for the implementation of the QCO. It cautioned that implementing the QCO during this crucial juncture without sufficient transition time for the retail industry would create a precarious situation and impede the operation, growth, and sustenance of the footwear retail sector. 

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (KUL)

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