Indian textile machinery manufacturers have seen a sharp decline in sales in 2001, Express India reported.

Production of textile machinery stood at Rs 190 crore during April-June, 2001, as opposed to Rs 292 crore during the corresponding quarter of 2000.

Figures released by the Textile Machinery Manufacturers' Association (TMMA) show that imports have fallen too, a decline that began in the last financial year.

Exports showed some improvement however, with sales reaching Rs 215 crore during April 2000-February 2001 against a figure of Rs 155 crore in the previous year.

According to industry sources, demand for machinery, both domestic and foreign, has fallen drastically, due to lack of upgradation in the textile industry. "Besides, the government has allowed imports of 10-year old machines. This will also hit demand for domestic machines. And the duty distortions continue to be ignored by the government," industry insiders told Express India.

Knitting machine production in particular has suffered from the fall in sales, suggesting that investments in this sector are falling off. This comes at a time when the knitwear sector has emerged as the only sector in the textile industry to have recorded strong growth rates.

Indian textile machinery companies also fear that heavily discounted products from rivals in China, Korea and Taiwan could swallow their profits in coming years.