PHOTO: Cotton Australia CEO Adam Kay, with Chairman Nigel Burnett, during an in-market trip to India.

In a bid to bolster bilateral trade, Cotton Australia’s CEO Adam Kay and Chairman Nigel Burnett engaged Indian diplomats, highlighting the potential for increased free trade in Australian cotton within India.

Adam highlights how the potential increase of free trade cotton would be a bonus for brands and retailers using the Indian market.

Adam, tell us about the current free trade agreement with India.

At present, the interim free trade agreement allows 51,000 MT of Australian cotton to be imported into India without the 11% tariff. Myself, and our chairman, Nigel Burnett, were able to speak with Indian diplomats including Textile Minister and his senior staff during our in-market visit and promote Australian cotton along with its sustainability credentials.

How will increasing the free trade agreement with India help brands using Australian cotton?

About 14% of Cotton Australia’s licensed brand partners produce cotton spun in India, with 12% sourcing fabric, and 11% using garment and manufacturing production. By increasing our free trade agreement with India, a larger supply of certified Australian cotton can be available for our brand partners, at a reduced costs thanks to the 11% tariff being withheld. With further discussion, we would like to see the free-trade cotton supply increased to more than 100,000 MT.

How much cotton is currently exported to India?

About 10 percent of the 2022-23 Australian cotton crop was exported to India, and we believe this has the potential to be more, should we secure additional tariff-free quota. It was extremely powerful to speak with the Minister for Textiles about the importance of increasing the tariff free quota and we received very positive responses to that meeting from senior government and industry officials.

What’s the Indian fashion market like, and where do you see it going?

The fashion production in India is absolutely booming. Textiles are critical to the country’s economy and given that one fifth of humanity live in India, the possibility for fashion production only going to continue to grow.

What else did you and Nigel do in India?

One of our highlights was attending the global textile event, Bharat Tex, in New Delhi, which was opened by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Nigel and I were able to talk about the great work our farmers and industry do, and why our cotton is premium. The Australian Connect session was a wonderful promotion of Australian cotton and wool.

Sounds like a great trip, did you have time to visit any Indian cotton farms?

We sure did. We visited some cotton farms in Nagpur area, where they grow cotton and pick by hand. It was amazing to see what they do. We also visited some spinning mills, the gin and toured their research facilities.

How did this trip come about?

Nigel and I were invited to India which was sponsored by the Indian Ministry of Textiles and the Australian government.


Cotton Australia has formed a number of authentic partnerships with retailers, brands, manufacturers and supply chain partners who share the industry's values. If your organisation believes in reducing environmental footprint, the fair and safe treatment of workers, quality product and supply chain traceability - then we may be in business.

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