Indian apparel exporters are calling on the country's government to lift the share of domestic sourcing in multi-brand retail by another 20% under its new plans to open the country's multi-brand retail sector to foreign investment.

The retail reform, which was pushed through last week, will allow overseas investors to own 51% of multi-brand retail outlets. One of its conditions is that retailers have to procure 30% of their merchandise domestically from Indian "small industries."

But the Apparel Export promotion Council (AEPC), while agreeing that the move "will give a much-needed fillip to the entire textiles industry," wants the share of domestic sourcing to be raised to 50% to help India's small textile and clothing manufacturers.

"The SME sector would definitely take advantage of this," said AEPC chairman Dr A Sakthivel in a letter sent last week to Textiles Minister Shri Anand Sharma.

"The proposed move would also enable the garment export factories to divert their available capacities and also continue to give employment to large number of workers," he added.

"The garment manufacturing exporting units are already equipped to handle this opportunity."