Exports have plummeted steeply in the first half of this financial year and projections for the remaining half of the year apparently look unenthusiastic. About 20,000 workers employed in different segments of the manufacturing chain in the knitwear cluster would lose their jobs very soon owing to the market crunch. Retrenchment has become imperative as exports for the first six months of this financial year ending September 30 has declined to Rs. 5,050 crore from Rs. 5,350 crore registered during the corresponding period last fiscal. In terms of earnings in US dollars, the downturn was pegged at 10 percent. Duty drawback rates on cotton-based knitwear products should be enhanced from 8.8 per cent to 11 per cent. He told The Hindu that the cluster being primarily made up of small and medium scale enterprises, venturing into new markets in Far East and even in the domestic segment instead of the US and Europe looked tough owing to lack of any branding.