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Asian output of woven textiles and apparel is set to surge, while producers in the USA and Western Europe will struggle to maintain output

From: ASAP

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The world market for woven textiles and apparel will grow 25% by 2010, according to a research report from Textiles Intelligence, World Markets for Woven Textiles and Apparel: Forecasts to 2010. But the bulk of that increased demand - 85% of it - will be satisfied by Asian manufacturing.

There will also be an increase in woven textile manufacturing in Central and South America, although on a more moderate scale. But in the developed economies of Western Europe, the USA and Japan – as well as in the newly industrialised economies of Taiwan and South Korea – increased imports of textiles and apparel will have a negative effect on domestic manufacturers.

Pressure on production in developed economies will be particularly strong after the elimination of quotas at the end of 2004. Firms in developed countries will try to compensate for the loss of their domestic markets by exporting to expanding markets in developing countries. But their efforts will be hampered by lingering high tariff and non-tariff barriers in many of the faster growing emerging economies.

In Western Europe production of woven fabrics for apparel and household products will continue to decline. To some extent, the decline will be offset by growth in production of woven fabrics for use in industrial and technical applications. But the growth is unlikely to be enough to compensate for the fall in apparel and household products.

However, the report maintains that apparel manufacturing will remain important in the southern countries of Western Europe – especially in Italy, Portugal and Spain.

Rising living standards in Turkey and Eastern Europe will open new markets for woven products. And although European clothing firms will continue to relocate labour intensive garment assembly to lower cost countries, many of these assembly operations will use yarns and woven fabrics originating from capital intensive European mills.

Wool weaving is one Western European sector that is likely to remain stable. Import penetration of the wool textile market is significantly lower than that of the cotton textile market. Demand for woven wool-type products will be maintained and could possibly increase.

Moreover, the remaining wool weaving industry base in Western Europe will consist of highly innovative companies producing high quality woven products.

In the USA, growing imports of woven fabrics and apparel -- particularly from China --are expected to cause further downsizing and closures among weaving manufacturers.

To compete with Asian imports, US clothing assembly has increasingly been relocated to Mexico and the Caribbean Basin. A high proportion of the resultant apparel exported from Mexico and the Caribbean is made from US materials. But in future, US producers will also relocate their woven fabric manufacturing operations offshore, in order to move closer to existing apparel assembly facilities.

Woven fabric and apparel production is also forecast to decline in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.

In China, the world’s largest producer of woven fabrics, exports of woven fabrics and apparel have increased rapidly since China joined the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in December 2001. Exports are expected to make another leap forward in 2005 following the elimination of quotas at the end of 2004.

In preparation for the expected expansion of production, the Chinese textile sector is being restructured at a rapid pace. Companies will be merged, and small, inefficient plants and mills will be closed – although the pace of these closures remains uncertain.

Rapid expansion is also expected in the Indian weaving sector. India benefits from low labour costs, a plentiful supply of domestically grown raw cotton, a well equipped spinning sector and an expanding synthetic fibre industry.

In addition, the Indian government has various policies which are aimed at boosting competitiveness ready for the elimination of quotas. For instance, so-called export orientated units (EOUs) are receiving generous subsidies as part of government efforts to boost exports.

In developed and developing economies, technological advances will aim to raise productivity by developing weaving machines with greater weft insertion speeds. The use of microelectronics and self-correcting facilities will help to improve quality assurance. There will also be a global effort to make weaving operations more environmentally friendly.

Technical textiles will continue to be one of the fastest growing areas. Fibre consumption for the production of such items as tyres, medical applications, airbags, tarpaulins and geotextiles is expected to expand by about 3% per annum in the years to 2010.

As part of their strategy to withstand import competition, textile manufacturers in developed economies – particularly in northern Europe – will increasingly work in close cooperation with large retailing companies for joint product development.

As further globalisation and restructuring take place, only those companies with the willingness and adaptability to embrace new technologies and marketing strategies will survive.

"World Markets for Woven Textiles and Apparel: Forecasts to 2010", Special Report No 2653, by CIRFS, is published by Textiles Intelligence Limited. The report costs Euro665 (Europe, Middle East or Africa) or US$765 (Americas or Asia Pacific) and is available from Belinda Carp at Textiles Intelligence, International Subscriptions, 10 Beech Lane, Wilmslow SK9 5ER, United Kingdom. Tel: +44 (0)1625 536136; Fax: +44 (0)1625 536137; Email: info@textilesintelligence.com

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