SINGAPORE — As China continues to dominate the post-quota industry, Asia’s other textile players are working to bolster their presence and stay competitive.
The latest is Singapore, which last month announced a $6.7 million government initiative to boost the city-state’s textile and apparel manufacturing presence in the region. The government grant, earmarked for two new programs, is expected to help Singapore’s manufacturers generate an additional $250 million in revenue by 2009.
Singapore’s textile and apparel manufacturers have annual sales of about $2.7 billion—though only about $600 million comes from goods actually made in the country. The bulk of the revenue comes from textiles produced in Singaporean-owned factories in nearby Asian countries such as China, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Indonesia, where labor and other expenses are much cheaper.
The main aim of the latest government grant is to help Singaporean companies stay ahead of their local competitors in the less-expensive countries, said Patrick Lee, chairman of Singapore-based apparel manufacturer Sing Lun Holdings Ltd. and the honorary president of the country’s Textile and Fashion Federation, or TAFF, which will oversee the grant.
“Singapore’s main advantage is that it is a natural hub for the whole region,” said Lee. “Our companies are able to provide the benefits of an established business environment while still taking advantage of the low-cost sourcing options in the area. That is our strength, and we want to maintain it.”
The new grant is focused on two main initiatives. The first is the establishment of a Productivity and Design Development Center, a three-year program that will hire experienced engineers and designers from leading textile and fashion companies in the U.S. and Europe, as well as from within Singapore, to act as consultants for the industry and to assist manufacturers in streamlining production processes and improving technology.
The project is expected to begin in early April.
The second initiative focuses on growing Singapore’s annual fashion week, held in October. The funds will help expand the week’s focus beyond local design and will provide a platform for textiles and apparel manufacturing as well. TAFF’s main hope is to entice more buyers to the event.