Reduce import tariffs to 30 percent: Italian designer Missoni

March 29th, 2008 - 7:47 pm ICT by admin  


New Delhi, March 29 (IANS) India should reduce its import tariffs on luxury goods to 30 percent and also permit multi-branded retailing to widen the base of these products in the country, renowned Italian fashion designer Vittorio Missoni suggested Saturday. “Right now, luxury branded products are not competitive in India because of high duties. It is cheaper to buy these products abroad,” the designer, who heads family business Missoni SPA that recorded sales of 75 million euros last year told reporters.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the two-day Mint-Hindustan Times Luxury Summit that concluded Saturday.

“By lowering tariffs to around 30 percent, you will make branded luxury products available to more and more Indians who have the purchasing power but don’t necessarily travel abroad,” maintained Missoni, a self-confessed Indophile.

“I have been here many times. I am completely fascinated by the abundance of colours available here.

“Luxury is in your culture,” Missoni maintained, adding: “You have an educated class here that appreciates quality, that knows how to live with precious things and how to appreciate them.”

The size of India’s luxury market is estimated at around $3.5 billion. Experts say that given the right impetus, it could easily leapfrog to $30 billion by 2015 riding on a consumer class of an estimated 400 million people with rising disposable incomes and a sense of optimism.

Economic reforms spread over a decade and half, coupled with sustained high growth rates, has led to the emergence of the high net worth individuals (HNIs) in India who are spurring the demand for luxury goods in a big way.

The 2007 Asia Pacific Wealth Report, released by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini says that India has recorded the world’s second fastest growth in the number of HNIs at a staggering 20.5 percent.

With the report estimating India’s population of dollar millionaires at about 100,000, it said growth rate was more than twice that of the US.

Estimates suggest that India has more consumers for luxury goods than the adult population of several countries.

Little wonder then, more than 200 international luxury brands are making inroads into India and those who are here are planning to expand their businesses.

Given these figures, Missoni felt there was need for multi-brand retail outlets - but it could be a while before this happens.

The designer, however, can draw solace from the fact that Commerce Minister Kamal Nath, while inaugurating the summit Friday, spoke of the possibility of customs tariffs being reduced.

“We recognise that if you go abroad and buy, it is a revenue loss for India,” the minister said, adding: “We are working on both duties and countervailing duties.”

Addressing the summit Friday, Commerce Secretary G.K. Pillai said India may allow 100 percent foreign equity in retail, but the Indian industry would first have to be taken along.

“Today we permit 51 percent. In a few years, it could be 100 percent,” he said.

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