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27 May, 2019 00:00 00 AM

Current trends of the textile industry

The export and import rankings of textiles and apparels in the world fluctuate a very little usually from year to year
Syed Mohammad Shahadatul Islam
Current trends of the textile industry

According to the annually released “World Trade Statistical Review 2018” by the World Trade Organization (WTO), the current dollar value of world textile (yarns and fabrics) and apparel (ready made garments) exports totaled $296.1 billion and $454.5 billion respectively in 2017, the amounts increased by 4.2% and 2.8% from the previous year. Records indicate that this is the first time since 2015 that the value of world textile and apparel exports enjoyed a growth. Driven by rising demand for imports globally, however, the current dollar value of world merchandise exports also grew by 4.7% in 2017. Textile and apparel products, interestingly, accounted for around 4% of global trade in 2017, down from 5% in 2016. Thus, although the dollar values have increased from last year’s, the percentage shares of textiles and apparels in global trade have declined, perhaps, partly because of a remarkable increase in the trade of some other merchandise, that is, because of a rapid expansion of the global market. So, there is no reason to assume that textiles and apparels business is shrinking or is likely to decline in future as long as everybody wears clothes.

The WTO ranked the European Union (EU), a political and an economic union of 28 countries, as the second largest apparel exporter in the world, but did not provide segregate data on clothing exports status of the all 28 member countries.

Thus, it is safe to conclude that as a country, Bangladesh accounting for 6.5% market share of the global apparel market, ranked second among other apparel exporters of the world. The glorious presence of this region in this industry is not all on a sudden at all: History reveals that Bengal had a 25% share of the global textile trade in the early 18th century; Bengali Muslin saris exclusively from Dhaka were sold in Central Asia, where they were known as "daka" textiles; Varanasi also called Banaras, a city in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, is the most antique manufacturer of Banarasi saris; Produced for centuries in Narayanganj, Jamdani sari is a fine textile of Bangladesh. Plus, Banarasi saris have also been produced in Bangladesh since 1950, when some migrated Muslims from Varanasi started producing Banarasi saris at Mohammadpur and Mirpur of Dhaka, according to Bangladesh Handloom Board.

The export and import rankings of textiles and apparels in the world fluctuate a very little usually from year to year, partly because of the proven expertise of the nations in the industry and of the already set-up supply chain management procedures. Buying houses located worldwide usually facilitate the whole process – procuring yarns from spinning mills, and assembling yarns into finished apparels through their nominated sourcing bases – to ensure that all finished items are in-housed at their retail outlets at the right time.        

China, the EU, and India remained the world’s top three exporters of textiles in 2017. Altogether, these top three accounted for 66.3% of world textile exports in 2017, up from 65.9% in 2016. The United States remained the fourth largest textile exporters in 2017, accounting for 4.6% of the shares. Regarding apparels, China, the EU, Bangladesh and Vietnam unshakably remained the world’s top four largest exporters in 2017. Altogether, these top four accounted for as much as 75.8% of world market shares in 2017, according to the WTO data.

Experts agree that China is exporting less apparel and more textiles to the world. The WTO data state that China accounted for 37.1% of world textile exports in 2017, a trade which is a new record high. Most probably, such remarkable market shares in textile exports have to do with the country’s strongest position in the spinning industry and in the cotton industry. China is simultaneously the largest cotton producer and largest cotton importer in the world, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Regarding imports, study shows that strong buying power and population size have made the EU, the United States, and Japan the top three importers of apparels in 2017, countries together importing 62.3% of the world’s apparels, and the EU, the United States, and China were the top three largest textiles importers in 2017, according to Statista 2019.

One thing is clear: Asia pacific has a leading position in the textiles and apparels world. The EU, on the other hand, has a vital role in the textile industry, ranking second among textiles and apparels exporters and ranking first among apparels and textiles importers. The United States is the fourth largest textiles exporter and second largest apparels importer. Japan is okay with third largest apparels importer with no major input into textiles and apparels exports. Thus it seems fairly likely that textiles and apparels are global industries, but study done by scholars indicates that Asian countries import textile raw materials in large scale from some other Asian countries and the EU countries export most apparel to other EU countries. So such scholars like to concede that regional supply chains are in fact shaping world textiles and apparels trades.     

Products obtained from contractors in the western hemisphere generally have a higher cost than products obtained from contractors in Asia. We all know: importing giants typically look into low cost producers to buy apparels, but, paradoxically, a recent trend made by the United States stands to astonish everybody.

Seasonally adjusted OTEXA (Office of Textiles and Apparels) trade datum shows that between January and September 2018, the value of the United States apparels imports from China decreased by 0.6 percent in volume despite that Chinese apparels are getting cheaper than ever. It might be argued that China itself is expecting a slower growth for the industry, as the country is leaving to producing tech intensive products.

Regardless of whether this rumor is okay, this decline in the China’s exports to the United States can be a good message to the apparel exporting countries relying heavily and solely on low cost concept. Study shows that, however, besides offering products at low cost, nations giving importers greater flexibility, transparency about factory conditions, shorter lead times, superior quality, speed to market, and lower inventory levels, surely will stand out of the crowd.

The writer is a contributor to

The Independent



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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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