Asia Watch: Growth Sport…Port Proposal…Chinese Mills To Close…
GROWTH SPURT: The 10 economies of East Asia, excluding Japan, are expected to register growth of 6.7 percent as a whole in 2004, or a 0.8 percentage point higher than the 5.9 percent this year, spurred by the “continuing strong...
GROWTH SPURT: The 10 economies of East Asia, excluding Japan, are expected to register growth of 6.7 percent as a whole in 2004, or a 0.8 percentage point higher than the 5.9 percent this year, spurred by the “continuing strong expansion” of the Chinese economy and the recovery and acceleration of growth in other Asian countries, according to the latest forecast by the Institute of Developing Economies of the Japan External Trade Organization.
The 61-page report, “2004 Economic Outlook for East Asia,” said China’s economy is likely to attain a high 8.5 percent growth in 2004, or only a 0.1 percentage point lower than the 8.6 percent estimated for 2003.
China, “with its enormous industrial labor reserve in the countryside and rural areas,” will continue to maintain an advantage in labor costs. But on the negative side, the report noted, the country is faced with a lack of proper infrastructure, as evidenced by the shortage of electricity in Shanghai.
China also is confronted with the possibility of a revaluation of its currency or a switch to a floating exchange-rate system that, the report noted, might discourage direct foreign investments into China.
The report forecasts a growth of 5.1 percent for Hong Kong in 2004, or 2.2 percentage points higher than the previous year, because the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement, which Hong Kong concluded with China last June, will take effect. The agreement will relax regulations on individual tours from China to Hong Kong, lower tariffs on Hong Kong’s domestic exports to China and allow Hong Kong easier access to service industries in China.
With the prospect of economic upturns and increases in private consumption in 2004, the South Korean economy is heading for growth of 5.1 percent (compared with 3 percent in 2003), Taiwan should register 4.3 percent (against 3.3 percent) and Singapore expects 4.2 percent (against 1.1 percent), the report said.
Growths estimated for other East Asian countries in 2004 are: Indonesia, 4.5 percent (compared with 4 percent); Thailand, 7 percent (6.5 percent); Malaysia, 5.6 percent (4.6 percent); the Philippines, 4.7 percent (4.4 percent), and Vietnam, 7.5 percent (7.2 percent).This month, the Japanese government announced a forecast projecting Japan’s economic growth in fiscal 2004 at 1.8 percent compared with an estimated 2 percent for fiscal 2003 ending next March. — Tsukasa Furukawa
PORT PROPOSAL: In the clearest signal yet that Hong Kong’s Kwai Chung container port is losing business to its rivals in mainland China, The Federation of Hong Kong Industries has appealed to the government to lower charges at the port. Currently, Hong Kong is the busiest container port in the world, but its terminals handled 1.1 million 20-foot equivalent units in September, a 6.6 percent drop from 2002.
The Federation is concerned that the geographic advantage of ports in the mainland will soon outweigh the efficiency of Hong Kong’s terminals. Federation chairman Andrew Leung pointed out that many shipments were diverted from Shenzhen to Hong Kong because the former port is at full capacity. In September, Hong Kong handled just 10,000 more boxes than Shenzhen, in the Special Economic Zone just north of the border.
CHINESE MILLS TO CLOSE: Twenty of the 34 biggest textile mills in Xinjiang, the northwestern province in China, have closed plants or cut production because of escalating cotton prices and a shortage of the fiber. Xinjiang Textile Group, a state-run enterprise that is the largest cotton yarn producer in the province, has closed three of its four mills. It expects to cut production by 50 percent this year. Last year, it had sales of $145 million.
According to a survey by the provincial textile bureau, all the closures or cutbacks have come since September, when cotton fiber prices reached $2,235 a ton. The plant closures have led to numerous protests and demonstrations, prompting Beijing to order officials to ensure that there is no holdup in the delivery of fiber to mills.
High prices isn’t the only problem facing China’s cotton fabric producers. This year, floods ruined the domestic crop, forcing yarn buyers to turn to India and the U.S. for raw material. Officials hope that purchasing large orders of cotton from American suppliers will help ease trade tensions between the two countries.
FIBER PATENT: Bamboo fiber is finding its way into the textile and apparel market in Japan in a big way next spring. Nomura Sangyo Corp., a wool textile manufacturer based in Ichinomiya near Nagoya, which holds the patent rights on the viscose process for production of bamboo fiber, has formed a group with its licensees to promote the fiber and related products.The group, which involves Toray Industries Inc., Kurabo Industries Ltd. and Japan Wool Textile Co., has instituted a system of quality standards and certification to guarantee the high quality of bamboo fiber products to be marketed by the suppliers and prevent patent infringement by other firms. The four companies have established a logo or mark that will be on every label to be attached to products they supply and sell. The logo indicates use of bamboo fiber and Nomura’s patent number, or 3448526.
The four companies are expected to generate bamboo fiber sales of $20 million, or 2.2 billion yen at current exchange, next year. Toray’s production will center on products involving mixtures of bamboo and man-made fibers. Kurabo will be heavy on cotton or wool blends with bamboo fibers, while Japan Wool will concentrate on bamboo and wool mixtures. Raw materials will be imported from India and China.
In addition, two more companies, Chuo Woolen Mills Ltd. and Toabo Corp., have licensing arrangements to use bamboo fibers for specified uses only.
EXCLUSIVE: Two and half months after John Targon, cofounder and codesigner of Baja East, was hired as creative director of the contemporary division at Marc Jacobs, he has left the company, WWD has learned. Marc Jacobs International, which is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, confirmed Targon’s departure in a statement: “John Targon is a talented designer and we appreciate the work he has done here. Ultimately working together did not make sense for the brand and we wish him the best.” Read the story by @jessiredale, link in bio. #wwdnews
@theluxurycollection is officially launching a collection, tapping Sofia Sanchez de Betak for the capsule. Over 30 styles will be featured in the Chufy x The Luxury Collection, debuting next month at Bergdorf Goodman, The Webster, FiveStory and more. De Betak, known as “@chufy,” drew inspiration for the collection from her trips to Japan in the past year #wwdfashion
@lhd, founder and CEO of @thewebster, has teamed up with @lebonmarcherivegauche for the European launch of her ready-to-wear line, LHD. The launch will come with an exclusive pop-up opening today that’s set to run through May 20. Located on the second floor, it carries her debut Miami-themed resort collection, launched in November as see-now-buy-now. #wwdfashion
@longchamp, which marks its 70th anniversary this year, just opened its biggest U.S. store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. On the lower level there’s a floor-to-ceiling display of the brand’s iconic Le Pliage bag – in all of its different colors, shapes and sizes. Customers can also have their product personalized in-store by imprinting names, initials or emblems. #wwdfashion (📷: @ericmtownsend)
“Whenever I’m in that place of sound and music, I don’t have fear or nervousness…This album has a lot of themes of courage and boldness and I want to be the soundtrack for people’s lives. I’ll be so happy if [my songs] evoke strength in people, which I know music has done for me,” says @kimbramusic of her newest album “Primal Heart.” The New Zealand-born singer sat down with WWD to talk about her music, newest tour and connecting with hear fans — read more on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
Luxury handbag resale company @rebagofficial is planning to sell a rare collectible for $70,000: the @hermes White Crocodile Himalayan Birkin. The exclusive Birkin sold for about $100,000 in 2008, when @davidbeckham bought one for his wife @victoriabeckham to add to her collection. Read more about the rare Birkin on WWD.com #wwdaccessories
With her costume pearl necklace and what-you-see-is-what-you-get style, Barbara Bush, who died Tuesday at age 92, was a straight-shooter from start to finish.
Born Barbara Pierce in New York City, Bush served as the 37th first lady, as well as the country’s second lady from 1981 to 1989. In addition to being part of the longest presidential marriage — 73 years — Bush also had the unlikely distinction of having one son, George W., become the 43rd president and another son, Jeb, run unsuccessfully in 2016. Having served as second lady during the Reagan administration’s two terms and lived all over the world during her own husband’s ascending political career, Barbara Bush made it clear that literacy — not fashion — was her priority. Read more from Rosemary Feitelberg’s obituary on the late First Lady in WWD.com, link in bio. #barbarabush #wwdnews
Western and ’90s trends have influenced denim for fall 2018. Think raw, dark and coated jeans mixed with bold prints and tough leather. #trendtuesdays #wwdfashion (Styled by @thealexbadia;📷: @ryanplett)