DEBATING THE PLACE OF POLITICS AT CHINA TEXTILE SHOW
Byline: David Grant Caplan
NEW YORK — Despite the recent strain in diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China, 180 Chinese firms made the trek to Manhattan to exhibit at the China Textile & Apparel Trade Show.
While the world’s most populous nation continues to be criticized by many in the U.S. for its human-rights record and its actions during April’s U.S. spy plane drama, many exhibitors at the show — which ended its three-day run June 8 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center — said they are interested in profits, not politics.
“I’m a businesswoman — I don’t talk about politics,” said Lu Jian Guo, import and export manager of Changshu Printing and Dyeing General Mill. “We came here because we want to do more U.S. textile business.”
Zhou Sheng Zhong, import and export manager of Zhejiang Shengzhou Cotton Ramie Textile Printing and Dyeing General Mill, said “I don’t get involved in politics and we don’t feel it’s a pressure because these two countries need each other.”
A few exhibitors said business had been affected by the political strife between the two countries, though they didn’t rule out the effects of the slowdown in the U.S. economy on demand for Chinese products.
“I think politics affects us because, in the last few months, the value of orders have gone done, although it also could have been the commercial situation,” said Betty Li, sales manager for private label manufacturer Deyi Fashion Cloths Co.
Li said the 10-year-old company hopes to increase its sales to the U.S. by 20 percent within two years.
Jack Zhang, president of Irwindale, Calif.-based Erdos Cashmere Group USA, the Stateside arm of China’s Erdos Group, said, “We are worried about politics, but we cannot control that.”
He added, “I think there is some affect since some U.S. companies don’t want to deal with China.”
Zhang said the company, which produces cashmere tops and scarves for U.S. private label lines and for its own Erdos and El Daws labels, generates about $50 million in sales each year from the U.S. market.
Some attendees said that politics had no place at the show.
“As far as political things, I don’t concern myself with that+the people over there are wonderful,” said Lou Nardi, president of New York-based contemporary private label manufacturer No Bull Ltd. “I’ve been making garments for 25 years and, about two months ago, I decided to close up my domestic production and go to China.” Herman Steinberg, president of New York-based Freeway Fashions, a private label manufacturer of women’s and children’s wear who produces domestically, said he is considering expanding production into China.
“The benefit of China is just price because the quality is average,” he said.
According to show organizers, there were more than 2,000 attendees at the show, which was presented by The China Council for the Promotion of International Trade’s subcouncil for the textile industry in Shanghai and New York-based firms Specialty Trade Shows Inc. and Fully Youthful Enterprise Inc.
Some exhibitors complained they had expected more traffic.
“There are not too many customers+we had expected more people to come,” said Xu Ling, a sales representative for the yarn and fabric branch of the Shangdong Textiles Import and Export Corp. Ling cited the sluggish economy as a reason why attendee figures had not met her expectations.
Ling said the fabric manufacturer “is looking to increase U.S. sales by 15 to 20 percent, but I understand that the U.S. economy is not great right now, so I’m looking to just get some increase.”
Ann Wang, who oversees marketing and international sales for the Nexis Corp.’s Tianlun Dyeing & Weaving Mill and the Huayu Dyeing Mill, said, “Our goal is to improve our U.S. sales as much as possible, but the show is quiet.”
But now all was disappointed.
George Zhen, a sales representative for Yixing Lucky Textiles Printing & Dyeing Co. Ltd., said the show met his expectations.
“It’s been busy, and people have shown interest,” he said.
Zhen noted that the company exhibited at the show because of the opportunity to meet existing and prospective customers, saying: “The company has been doing a lot of international trade, and we believe this is a good opportunity to expand our sales in the U.S.”