The International Textile Manufacturers Federation (ITMF) is an international forum for the world’s textile industries – from fibers to finished products –, dedicated to keeping the world-wide membership constantly informed through surveys, studies and publications, participating in the evolution of the industry’s value chain and through the organization of annual conferences as well as publishing considered opinions on future trends and international developments.
Through ITMF the global textile industries cooperate at the international level with organizations representing other sectors allied to their industry.
Recently Team Textile Focus talked with Dr. Christian Philipp Schindler, Director General, International Textile Manufacturers Federation. Born in Karlsruhe, Germany, in 1968, Dr. Schindler studied economics at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, from where he graduated in 1994. Between 2001 and 2004 he studied at the Institute of Economic Policy at the University of Cologne, Germany, where he wrote his thesis and obtained a doctorate degree in 2004. Dr. Schindler was appointed Economist of the International Textile Manufacturers Federation on October 1, 2004, and was promoted to the position of Director in 2006. At the Federation’s Annual Conference in Dubai, UAE, in September 2006 he was nominated and elected Director General as of January 1, 2007. Key discussion points are mentioned for our readers-
Textile Focus: How are you observing the global textile industry during the pandemic?
Dr. Christian Schindler: With the ITMF Corona-Survey we have started already in March 2020 a new survey-series to learn about the challenges the textile supply chain is faced with and to know about the state of and the outlook for the various segments of the textile supply chain in all regions of the world. We have just published the results of the 9th ITMF Corona-Surveys which were shared with ITMF-members. The situation is good and the outlook in six months’ time even better. The balance between good and poor business situation was in July at +23 percentage points (see respective graph). The expectations for January 2022 are also promising with a positive balance of also +23 percentage points (see respective graph).
Currently, we are conducting the 10th ITMF Corona-Survey. The results will be available later this month.
Textile Focus: What are the recent activities of ITMF?
Dr. Christian Schindler: In addition to the ITMF Corona-Surveys we are of course using digital tools to conduct webinars and to interview industry experts from across the world. Of course, we continue to compile statistical data about capacities, investments, production costs, etc. which we share with our members.
Textile Focus: How does ITMF assist textile manufacturers?
Dr. Christian Schindler: By conducting surveys about the state of the industry and by asking industry participants to share their experiences and strategies, ITMF members get a better understanding of how the industry is evolving. If companies realize that they are facing similar or different problems compared to their industry peers along the value chain and in different regions of the world they have a better understanding of the overall situation. This will allow them to react more appropriately.
Textile Focus: What kind of challenges do you face as an organization?
Dr. Christian Schindler: What ITMF-members are missing most are the in-person meetings at our conferences, workshops, and seminars. While digital tools are great for certain types of interaction, they cannot replace in-person meetings at conferences or exhibitions. We are therefore hoping very much that the next ITMF Annual Conference which is scheduled to be held in Davos, Switzerland from April 10th to 12th, 2022 will take place as a regular in-person event.
Textile Focus: What is your view about Bangladesh’s textile and apparel industry?
Dr. Christian Schindler: In the past ten years Bangladesh’s textile industry has become a major producer and exporter of apparel. It has also emerged as a major producer of cotton and blended yarns. According to ITMF’s publication “International Textile Machinery Shipment Statistics” (ITMSS), Bangladesh’s textile industry has invested not only in upgrading and expanding the garment sector and the short-staple spinning sector but also all other segments.
The textile industry in Bangladesh is producing mainly cotton related products, whereas man-made fiber products, especially polyester products are underrepresented compared to the share of global polyester products.
Textile Focus: Do you have any message for the global textile industry?
Dr. Christian Schindler: The global textile industry is amid a major transformation process. The Corona-pandemic has revealed certain weaknesses and has accelerated and intensified several trends. On important lesson learned is that an efficient supply chain is still key but that it must be balanced with resilience. More and more events with severe consequences for the global textile industry are likely to happen also in the future. The costs of such disruptions have increased and cannot be ignored. Technology can help the industry to make certain risks not only more visible but to calculate the costs and equally important to identify solutions to overcome such disruptions at lower costs. With the help of big data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) companies and organizations can develop strategies and actions to mitigate the negative impact of disruptions. For example, in regions with major weather extremes like floods and/or heat waves, companies have to build facilities and organize the production processes in such a way that they can withstand such events.
Another important trend is sustainability. The textile industry must apply technologies that reduce the green house gases as much as possible and as fast as possible. The most important aspect is reducing and eliminating the consumption of fossil energy and replacing it with renewable energy. Electricity for a facility that was produced with coal or other fossil fuels is not sustainable. Large brands and retailers will choose soon their suppliers depending on their carbon footprints. It will become a competitive necessity to produce textile products sustainably. This includes also to become part of a circular economy. Cooperation and partnerships along the supply chain are paramount if companies want to be part of the solution and not become part of the problem.