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Is textile industry shifting from China?

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Rashedul Antu

China is the pioneer in textile clothing industry since the history of textile and clothing industry. Based on skilled manpower China is ranked the number one textile and clothing exporters to the world producing more than 43.1% of global demand. Recently China is concentrating on value adding tech intensive products. Textile industry of China is shifting gears for several reasons such as higher costs of production and scarcity of a skilled labor force. Exports are on a decline but the sector still maintains its pole position in the world market. On the other hand, textile production in 2017 will continue to update with depreciation and the rise of cotton prices.

As per the 13th five-year plan of Chinese Government for the year 2016 to 2020 period, China strategically is moving towards more value adding tech intensive products. The plan is to maintain traditional market share and to grow more on the high value adding product range. But real market data shows that the country is losing its export market drastically from 2015 in almost all product sectors in the textiles and clothing arena. Textile & clothing industry is too much stretched in China and there are eight major categories such as garment, cotton fabrics, chemical fabrics, wool fabrics, silk fabrics, knitted fabrics, textile machinery and best fiber. Production capabilities of all categories T&C is unparalleled in the world.

According to China Textile Industry Development Report (2014/2015), textile fiber production in China exceeded 50 million tons, accounting for 54.36 per cent of world share. As much as 64.2 per cent of the world’s chemical fibers, 64.1 per cent of synthetic fibers and 26.2 per cent of cotton were produced in China. On the other hand, apparel production in China reached 29.9 billion units in 2014, which is 10.4 per cent higher from 2013. This massive production capacity of China is showing a clear view that very likely China will remain the top apparel-sourcing goal for world’s buyers.

But the total value of China exports of apparel & clothing accessories in the world is frustrating.  This data (bellow chart) clearly shows that Chinese apparel export was having sharp growth till 2014 and afterwards it is having sharp decline. In 2014, Chinese global apparel export was the highest ever and afterwards in two years, it has lost 14.79 per cent of its exports.

china-textile-marketLast year China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) released its development plan, the 13th Five-Year Plan for period 2016-2020, for the apparel and textile industry, where China itself is expecting a slower growth for the industry (growth rate was 8.5per cent in 2011-2015 whereas the plan set a 6-7per cent goal for next five-year). Similarly, fiber end-use ratio and annual labor productivity growth rate were set lower than previous plan. At the same time, China set a target to build a more tech-intensive textile & clothing industry.

However, whatever the export growth or decline is, China as a vibrant manufacturing country will surely maintain core value adding sustainable business portions in textile and apparel value chain. With great rise in domestic consumption, Chinese companies are becoming global giant day by day. But the thing is China will go for value added textile products. At the same time countries like Bangladesh, India, China, Vietnam will receive regular items in large volume.