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Indian Garment Industry Aims For Net Savvy Future

The Confederation of Indian Apparel Exporters (CIAe) has formally launched its Web site and aims to bring the Indian garment industry closer to online training, e-commerce and Internet-based information sharing.

"The Indian garment industry has not exploited the benefits of newer technologies to boost international trade. The Internet is one of them. In fact, the main one and our objective is to bring all garment exporters together through the medium of the Internet," claimed Amit Goyal, president of CIAe.

"The CIAe is aware that to be globally competitive in the next millennium, the industry has to become Internet savvy," he added. "It is high time the garment industry uses the Internet and expands its trade activities."

The site is specifically designed to provide free trade related information -- be it for exporters, importers, accessory suppliers, quota information or even sea freight forwarders. For those exporters looking for specialized services, the Net would directly link them to some of CIAe approved service vendors.

The Indian garment industry is the highest net foreign exchange earner and has done business worth approximately Rs 20,000 crores (US$4.63 billion) in the current financial year, according to market estimates.

The confederation hopes to draw the ever-expanding Internet traffic to its site and is offering free homepages to all members who register at the site before July 30.

According to Moneesh Mirchandani, vice president for software, the site is expected to be a "footage to e-commerce, for we have learned that less than 5 percent of the Indian garment industry is using the Internet for business transaction. In a country like the U.S., the figure is almost 80 percent."

Mirchandani, who is also the developer of the site, added that the site enabled an interactive help line, which was incorporated to reply to the day to day queries of individual exporters.

CIAe is a nonprofit institution. The only source of revenue for the organisation will be from banner ads on the site, which will help cover basic expenses and provide regular add-on services, Goyal pointed out.

In addition to the Web site and information sharing, which has already commenced, the CIAe has tied up with charity institutions like Child Relief and You, National Association for the Blind and the Red Cross to provide free garments.

Of the 850 members of CIAe, 200 members have already signed on for the charity drive, which involves each garment exporter donating 50 pieces of basic clothing towards these institutions.