A military dress parade in Moscow in May 2011. (Photo/CNS)
Russia is proposing a ban on the purchase of textiles and light industrial products for the needs of its military from foreign manufacturers in a bid to save its local textile industry, a move which will undoubtedly affect its largest foreign supplier China, reports the Global Times, a newspaper published under the auspices of the Chinese Communist Party.
A report by Russian newspaper Vjesnik on Monday said according to the country's Ministry for Economic Development, all textile purchases for the national defense department should come from domestic companies, and the military should ban the purchase of cotton, wool, linen and sewing cotton from foreign companies. The ban includes uniforms, leisure wear, underwear, bedclothes, hats, socks, pillows and shoes.
The ban is an emergency measure to turn around the fortunes of Russia's light industry sector, which faces collapse for being woefully uncompetitive compared with other countries.
A report on the Russian news website Ria Novosti said on Monday that the country's military announced at the end of last year that it is prepared to prohibit the use of imported fabric for uniforms. About 50% of its uniforms are made with material from China.
A number of Russian manufacturers of military uniforms complained to the government that they face great pressure from their competitors in China. "The cheap and poor-quality fabric made by Asian nations has edged out domestic goods," a boss of a Russian textile company told the website.
According to Russian law, it is forbidden to export cloth printed with military logos, but the military is allowed to import foreign cloth to make uniforms. It is a flaw in the law, a local textile businessperson said.
Dmitry Rogozin, the deputy prime minister who oversees the defense industry, said on his Facebook page that "we can make everything for ourselves."
Experts are concerned that promising a future for Russian companies will bring a rise in prices of domestic textiles. In addition, domestic production may prove to be insufficient, meaning imports will be necessary in any case. A simple ban may lead to disastrous results, the Global Times said.
An official in charge of procurements for the defense ministry said the ministry will only buy foreign goods if domestic companies do not produce similar products.