Sports goods is a niche sector, which has been a shining beacon of growth for India’s exports. The traditional clusters of Meerut in Uttar Pradesh and Jalandhar account for more than 70 percent of the sports goods production in the country. According to a study by the Export-Import Bank of India (India Exim Bank), India currently manufactures more than 300 types of sports goods and is one of the largest manufacturers in Asia, after China and Japan. Exports of sports goods from the country have increased from US$ 166.1 million in 2010-11 to US$ 278.9 million in 2019-20, registering a robust CAGR of 5.9 percent during this period. As per estimates by India Exim Bank, there remains an untapped export potential of US$ 227.4 million in the sports goods industry. If realized, it could help exports from the sector reach the US$ 500 million mark. Given India’s significant untapped potential in the sector and the Government of India’s overall focus on building a self-reliant manufacturing in the country, the Study opines that the time is ripe for India to push for appropriate reforms to address the challenges in the sports goods sector, enhance domestic capabilities and improve export competitiveness. Clusters such as Meerut in Uttar Pradesh will form the cornerstone in realizing the vision of a strong and AatmaNirbhar sports goods in the country.
The Study analyses the global trends in trade of sports goods, the performance of Indian sports goods exports over the recent years, and key aspects of India’s competitiveness in the international market. Based on a thorough analysis, comprising desk research and interaction with stakeholders, the Study identifies major challenges for the sector in India and recommends pertinent strategies for alleviating these concerns, including those arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Study discusses a multi-faceted approach to improve the competitiveness of the industry including product and market diversification; building capacity for bidding in international sporting events; promoting bundling of complementary sports goods and sportech products to fetch better margins; removing policy bottlenecks that impede growth in exports or promote imports; branding of Kashmir willow bats through a GI and marketing its positive attributes in the international market; providing fiscal incentives to companies for mechanization, and testing and certification of products; mechanizing the production of footballs; investigating possibility of raising tariffs on import from China; focusing on innovation and R&D; setting up plug and play facility for foreign investments; establishing common facility centres in the key sports goods clusters for the benefit of MSMEs, and spreading awareness through seminars and workshops.
The Study titled ‘Indian Sports Goods Industry: Strategies for Tapping the Export Potential’ was released by Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman, Hon’ble Union Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs, during an event jointly organized by India Exim Bank and the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) for the launch of the Ubharte Sitaare Fund on 21st August 2021, at Lucknow. The event had speakers from the Ministry of Finance, India Exim Bank, SIDBI and entrepreneurs from the MSME sector. The event was attended virtually and physically by more than 150 participants from the Indian business community.
Speaking on the occasion, Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman highlighted the efforts taken by the Government of India to impart a renewed energy to the MSME sector in the country. She noted that the Ubharte Sitaare Programme, which was announced in the Union Budget 2020, has been operationalized despite the pandemic, and is assisting companies through a mix of structured support comprising equity, debt and technical assistance. Launching the Ubharte Sitaare Fund (USF) of India Exim Bank and SIDBI, she emphasized that the Fund would make investments in export-oriented units by way of equity and equity-like products, and thereby help script a new paradigm of growth in exports from the MSME sector.
In her address, Ms. Harsha Bangari, Deputy Managing Director, India Exim Bank further underscored the readiness of India Exim Bank to partner future export champions under the Ubharte Sitaare Program and provide them with financial and advisory services to help realize their true potential. Ms. Bangari highlighted that as part of USF, the Bank would look at investing growth capital in enterprises that have potential for quick scale up and value creation, and handholding them through the growth phase.