The ITMF Mission Statement reads: “The International Textile Manufacturers Federation (ITMF) is an international forum for the world’s textile industries, dedicated to keeping the world-wide membership constantly informed through surveys, studies and publications, participating in the evolution of the industry’s value chain and through the organization of annual conferences as well as publishing considered opinions on future trends and international developments.”
Founded in 1904, ITMF represents the broadest possible segment of the world’s textile industries. The Indian industry is represented by the Confederation of Indian Textile Industry (CITI) and the Cotton Textiles Export Promotion Council (Texprocil) plus about 12 individual corporate members. ITMF’s annual conferences provide a wealth of data on the global textile and allied industry, and also act as window to the future trends and developments. The Federation has several committees that undertake various global level studies that cover production costs, raw materials scenario and actual machinery shipment data.This year’s ITMF Annual Conference was held in Beijing, China from October 16-18, 2014. The theme of the Conference was “Shared Opportunity – Shared Responsibility” and around 15 presentations were made in 3 General Sessions held during the event. The unique feature of this year’s conference appeared to be the space and time China got in the whole proceedings. China turned out to be at the center of all the discussions. The focus largely remained on China as to what kind of changes were likely to take place in China in the coming years and in what China was going to deal with the emerging opportunities and challenges. This should not be surprising given lion’s share of China in the world textile and clothing trade.
China joined the WTO in 2001 and with phasing out the Multi-Fibre Arrangement (MFA quota system) in 2005; the country got a great boost to enlarge its share in the global textile and clothing market. In 2013, China alone accounted for 34.8 percent of world textile exports and 38.6 percent of world clothing exports. With such a dominant position in the world trade, it is quite natural that any shift in Chinese pattern of production and/or consumption is going to have noticeable effect on other textile and clothing producing countries.
Almost all speakers made note of the rising production costs in China and the need for it to shift to higher-value added goods and services. It was also observed that, to cope up with the rising labor costs, China has already started to import finished textiles and garments from other countries, such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Already, countries such as Viet Nam, India, Turkey, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Morocco, have seen orders, slowly and partly, being diverted to them from China.
ITMF’s detailed analysis acknowledges China’s important role in the global fibre, textile, textile chemical and textile machinery industries. The study notes that, labor cost being a very small percentage of the total cost, China will be able to absorb rising labour costs for quite some time. But the pace of fresh investment will be slower than what it has been in the last 10 years. ITMF also feels that there are good reasons for investing outside China noting that many Chinese companies have also made such investments. This shift is likely to intensify in the coming years with implementation of WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement and also the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) for textile export and import.
With all these developments taking place, we can certainly expect a vibrant (and migrant, as well) global textile and clothing industry in the near future.