Matchmakers are calling for an import ban on lighters

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The South Indian Match Manufacturers‘ Association has appealed to state and central governments to halt imports of cheap Chinese-made lighters, which have entered the safety match market and plunged the industry into a crisis.

In a statement, association secretary J. Devadoss said the region is the world’s largest center for manufacturers and exporters of safety matches. The industry contributed £400m to GST and earned the equivalent of £400m in foreign exchange annually.

The manufacturing plants were largely located in arid regions and provided steady employment for a very large number of workers and played a notable role in improving their living conditions by improving their standards of education, health and hygiene.

The industry, which sold matchboxes at the lowest price of one rupee apiece, was hit by competition from Chinese-made imported lighters. Consequently, the demand for matchboxes fell and the matchboxes only worked four to five days a week.

Due to lower sales volume, the match industry failed to break even and defaulted on loan repayments.

The workers also suffered from falling incomes. If current conditions were allowed to continue, the matchstick industry and the hundreds of thousands of workers who depend on the industry would be in complete disarray, Mr Devadoss said.

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