TOKYO — The year 2004 will see the beginnings of a “global war” in textile and apparel trade with China’s full-dress entry in the world’s market economy and the ending of quotas, Masao Yamashita, chairman of the Japan Knitting Industry Association, said last week at the launch of the Japan Textile Export Organization aimed at expanding Japanese exports.

The organization was formed by nine major member associations of the Japan Textile Federation.

Yamashita, who has assumed the chairmanship of the JTEO, noted that China’s huge apparel-making capacity means it will be an ever-growing and dominant supplier to world markets.

Japanese industry officials said they are turning increasing attention to China because the country is certain to become more important than ever in terms of Japanese export promotion in three ways:

China is a major buyer of Japanese textiles and a major apparel manufacturing center to supply the Japanese market. Japanese apparel manufacturers are now stampeding into China to set up production.

The country is a rapidly growing consumer market for Japanese textiles and Chinese apparel using imported Japanese textiles.

China is a rapidly growing manufacturing base to supply apparel to Europe, America, Asia and other markets, especially after Dec. 31, 2004.

At present, industry officials here point out, apparel export quotas are allocated to Chinese companies. “Many Japanese companies operating in China want to sell apparel to European and American buyers,” one industry official said. “But they cannot do so because export quota rights are held by Chinese companies, and in many instances quota allotments are not available.”

But all these restrictions are expected to be lifted next year and, if that happens, China-based Japanese factories will be free to sell to any buyers including Europeans and Americans which, in turn, is expected to generate more demand for textiles from Japan.

“When the Chinese export market is freed, it is certain to offer new opportunities for us to bring our textiles to our apparel factories in China and supply more shipments to overseas buyers under OEM contracts,” another official emphasized.

Yamashita, noting there are many small-scale textile manufacturers in Japan, said there is a limit to what one company alone can do in trying to export to foreign markets. There are many varieties of specialty Japanese textiles that are rooted in Japanese culture and tradition that are saleable on the world markets, he noted.Yamashita also emphasized that Japanese companies, by exporting and meeting buyers abroad, are able to provide them with information on the Japanese market. It is time for Japanese textile men to become united to promote “Japan” as a global brand, Yamashita said.

The new program calls for such activities as assisting Japanese textile companies in participating in trade shows in China and other markets; conducting studies on Chinese textile and apparel markets; working with the Japan External Trade Organization in China; promoting publicity about the Japanese textile industry in China, and increasing exchanges with the Chinese apparel industry.

Yamashita emphasized that his organization is not taking over, but rather will be collaborating with the export activities already conducted by the various member associations of the federation.

The nine participants in JTEO are: Japan Chemical Fibers Association, Japan Spinners’ Association, Wool Spinners’ Association, Japan Cotton and Staple Fiber Weavers’ Association, Japan Silk and Synthetic Fabric Industrial Federation, Japan Worsted and Woollen Association, Japan Textile Finishers Association, Japan Textile Exporters Association and Japan Knitting Industry Association.

The project is supported by the Japan External Trade Organization and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

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