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By Max W. Sung

Yarn forward...: This year may bear witness to the finalisation of a number of major regional free trade agreements which may transform textile trading between nations.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which had its genesis as Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership amongst four countries (Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Singapore) in 2005, went into high gear in 2010 and now has eight additional members (Malaysia, Vietnam, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Australia, United States). The US president Barack Obama champions the idea, but he needs to persuade both houses of the US Congress to approve the agreement prior to its ratification. Similar to US free trade agreements (FTAs) in the past 25 years, TPP will have a restrictive "yarn forward" rule of origin for textiles. This rule requires that textiles and garments can qualify for duty-free entry to TPP member countries only if the yarn, fabric and assembly production steps are completed in member states. Besides its yarn-forward rule, TPP also has a list of commitments demanded of its members, including intellectual property rights, labour standards, competition policy, investment rules, the environment and the role of state-owned enterprises.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), spearheaded by leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2012 also aims to harmonise the multiple ASEAN FTAs with China, South Korea, Japan Australia, New Zealand and India as these FTAs have created a "noodle bowl" of regulations with different tariff concessions, tariff schedules and rules of origin. RCEP's definition of rules of origin involves co-equality of rules and accumulation of value contents as well as adopting best practices from the rule-of-origin administration in different countries. For instance, in the ASEAN-Korea FTA, most goods qualify for preferential treatment if the goods have 40% ASEAN regional value content (RVC) or the goods have been processed to have a change in tariff classification (CTC) at the 4-digit ASEAN Harmonized Tariff Nomenclature level. On the whole, ASEAN rule-of-origin regulations are less restrictive than TPP's yarn-forward rules of origin. Historically, ASEAN-FTAs have been built in timelines for compliance, depending on the level of development of each country. RCEP currently includes all members of ASEAN (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam) and the six countries (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand) with which ASEAN has FTAs. The United States is not in RCEP while China is not in TPP.

Across the Atlantic, Canada and the European Union have signed in 2013 a tentative agreement to open markets and eliminate nearly all import taxes. Under this Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA), which needs to be ratified by all 28 members of the European Union, the Canadian market will also be opened up to textiles, clothing and perfume from European producers. In the meantime, negotiations for a free trade agreement between the United States and the European Union, called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), have started and are expected to be finalised this year. It is not known yet that how the final CETA and TTIP will define rules of origin and yarn-forward restrictions.

The yarn-forward restrictions adopted by the United States in its FTAs have in part helped the US textile industry towards a 40% growth over a ten-year period and become the world's third largest exporter of textile products. With TPP close to finalisation the US textile sector has already attracted $700 million foreign investment in a period of eight months. Elsewhere, South Korea's Hyosung, has already announced plans to increase its investments in Vietnam's garment and textile industry to take advantage of duty-free exports to the US and other TPP member countries. Last June, Vietnam's industry and trade minister Vu Huy Hoang had asked from TPP members a "transformational roadmap" in applying the yarn-forward rule to the country's garment and textile industry. Vietnam, he explained, was at a lower level of development than other TPP members; therefore it would be difficult for the country to implement the yarn-forward rule immediately. "This means that in five years, or maybe more, if the garment and textile supporting industry is still underdeveloped, other TPP nations would still allow Vietnam to enjoy tax preferences under the TPP despite its importing yarns and fabrics from non-members," he clarified. Whether TPP members will accept Vietnam's plea or suggest alternative arrangements remains to be seen. As an ASEAN member Vietnam is already enjoying tax preferences under ASEAN-FTAs, and, in the future, it will also benefit from RCEP.

Both TPP and RCEP are important initiatives in the path towards trade liberalisation in the Asia-Pacific region. TPP, with its commitment to environmental protection, labour standards, intellectual property rights and the role of state-owned enterprises, will help developing economies in initiating internal reforms while reaping the benefits of duty-free trade and foreign investment. RCEP will help to simplify the myriad regulations currently held by the multiple ASEAN-FTAs while maintaining the centrality of ASEAN in the region.

Twenty-five years ago, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) initiative was established to study region-wide economic integration in the Asia-Pacific. Ten years ago, APEC proposed a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP) to consolidate and accelerate progress towards these goals. Will FTAAP provide the solution towards trade liberalisation in the Asia Pacific? .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   
 

Special Reports

  • Textile waste up-cycling: Will it make successful business? Up-cycling textile waste is an eco-friendly concept. For example, if everybody purchased just one item made from recycled wool a year, it would save some 371 million gallons of water and 480 tons of chemical dyes. That means a lot for a world which will have to support a population of some 10 billion by 2050. But the success of this idea depends on many factors. A number of fashion industry experts discussed this very issue at a one-day forum in Hong Kong on January 20. It was the second such forum the non-governmental organisation Redress has organised so far; the first was in last January. The assembled experts shared their experience and observations in the field of sustainable and ethical fashion; but their audience were left with no clear-cut answer to the question.

    By C.K. Chow

  • From cross-straits conference to regional alliance for research: The textile sector in the Greater China region could move towards forming an alliance for consolidating research and development projects if an idea proposed by Prof K.C. Ho of the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) is accepted by all concerned. Prof. Ho mooted the idea at the fifth cross-straits conference on textiles that was held in Hong Kong last month. Such an alliance, he said, could speed up research in the textile sector. The Greater China region that comprises the mainland of China and its two special administrative regions - Hong Kong and Macau - as well as Taiwan accounts for the lion's share of textiles and clothing exports from Asia. Asian exports in 2013 totalled $453.64 billion or 59% of the textile-based global trade, according to WTO figures; and 65% of the Asian exports stemmed from the Greater China region. That speaks of the need for better research and development backup in the region and the significance of Prof. Ho's suggestion.

    By Vicky Sung and C.K. Chow

  • India tops in cotton output, but China rules the market: Cotton farming worldwide is estimated to cover 33.5 million hectares in 2014-15. That is 3% increase over the previous season. India plays a significant role in this expansion. The country has remained consistently the home of the world's largest cotton acreage. Its planted area in 2014-15, estimated at 12.56 million hectares representing more than 50% increase than the average in the early 2000, is well over a third of the world total. Such expansion has compensated the low yield in the country, which is below world average, and helped India to overtake China as the world's top cotton producer last year. All indications suggest that India will retain the title this year and, maybe, beyond. At the same time, a ring of dark clouds surrounds India's production success. Whether or not India can find market for its rising production looms as a matter a concern. Domestic consumption of cotton in India is projected to slow down. The contraction in China's demand for cotton yarn imports is a major reason for it. Reforms in China and the country's increased emphasis on the use of domestic supplies are expected to reduce global import demand for the next several years. .



Exhibitions & Conferences

  • Heimtextil: Maintaining its world standard: In the segment of home textiles, including commercial uses of home textiles, every year begins with Heimtextil. It is the first and the largest of these product expositions held around the world. Therefore from 14 to 17 January the epicentre for this segment was in Frankfurt, Germany for producers, visitors and others with self-interest in this important textile segment. It was the most successful in recent years; besides, it also confirmed the positive outlook for the world economy.

    By Arthur D. Sager

  • Sustainable textile confab: The SDC Education Charity India, a chapter of the UK-based Society of Dyers and Colourists (SDC), will hold its 11th international conference on February 20, 2015, in Mumbai. - Fashion meeting in Jodhpur: India's National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) which has pioneered fashion business education in India and developed 15 centres across the country, thus becoming a leader in fashion education, is organising an international conference on fashion and textiles from March 12 to 13 at Hotel Indana Palace in Jodhpur, the second largest city in the state of Rajasthan.

  • Future of trade policy: The Brussels-based Foreign Trade Association (FTA) which recently published its 'Road Map for EU Trade Policy 2014-2019' is planning a conference in Brussels to discuss the matter.

  • The International Symposium of Intimate Apparel, an annual event that the Ace Style Institute of Intimate Apparel at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University's Institute of Textiles and Clothing (ITC) organises, is set to hold its eighth edition on March 17 this year at the PolyU's Chiang Chen Studio Theatre.

  • PH Value and CHIC: The China International Knitting Trade Fair that the CCPIT's Sub-Council of Textile Industry has been organising biannually - which is now renamed as PH Value - and the China International Fashion Fair or CHIC that the China National Garment Association hosts annually are to be held together for the first time this March 18-20 at the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai.

  • Textile machinery fair in Turkey: A textile machinery exhibition is scheduled to be held in Bursa, one of the most industrialised metropolises in Turkey, from April 9 to 12 this year.

  • Textile fair in Dubai: The International Textile Fair (ITF) which the UAE-based Nihalani Events Management launched last November with a two-day show will be held again this April.

  • Proposte with an added attraction: Ascontex Promozioni, a company linked with Italy's Proposte, is organising a new event called International Observatory that will take place from April 27 to 29, this year, concurrently with the annual Proposte exhibition on furnishing fabrics and curtains.

  • Techtextil and Texprocess: Techtextil, the biennial trade fair for technical textiles and nonwovens, will be held from May 4 to 7, this year, in Frankfurt concurrently with the 3rd Texprocess, the trade fair for processing textile and flexible materials. Both events are organised by Messe Frankfurt.

  • Door to Central Asian market: Uzbekistan's annual textile expo which attracts international participants is scheduled to hold its 12th show from May 27 to 29, 2015 at the Uzexpocentre National Exhibition Complex in Tashkent.

  • Textile fair in Phom Penh: Cambodia is preparing to hold the fifth edition of its trade show known as the Cambodia International Textile and Garment Industry Exhibition (CTG) at the Diamond Island Convention and Exhibition Center in Phnom Penh from August 21 to 24 this year.

  • IWTO congress: The International Wool Textile Organisation (IWTO) will hold its 84th annual congress this May 18-20 in the Chinese port city of Zhangjiagang. Wool industry leaders from around the world gathering there will explore wool's sustainable future.

  • FESPA fairs: The Federation of European Screen Printers Association (FESPA) that comprises 37 national organisations will hold the third FESPA Eurasia from November 26 to 29, 2015, at CNR Expo in Istanbul, Turkey, in partnership with the Outdoor Advertising Association (ARED). Later on, it will also hold a three-day show called FESPA Africa at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa, from July 22 to 24 next year.

  • Composites congress: The trade association Composites Germany which comprising AVK- Federation of Reinforced Plastics e.V., Carbon Composites e.V. (CCeV), CFK Valley Stade e.V. (CFK-Valley) and Forum Composite Technology in the German engineering industry's umbrella organisation VDMA, is planning to organise a new congress that will replaces the AVK's international conference.

  • Cashmere World Forum that is designed as the "only trade event dedicated to cashmere and fine fibres" and is organised annually by UBM Asia, will be held from October 7 to 9, 2015 at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre.

  • Cotton research confab: The 6th World Cotton Research Conferences (WCRC-6) will be held from June 20 to 24, 2016 in the city of Goiânia, Goiás in Brazil. .

 

Regional Notes

Sri Lanka

From A.H.H. Saheed, Colombo

  • The proof of true quality: Quality rather than preferential tariff is what drives Sri Lanka's garment exports, according to the Sri Lanka Apparel Exporters Association (SLAEA). Exports have climbed from US$3.2 billion in 2010. That year the EU also suspended Sri Lanka's GSP+ privilege because the country's failure to implement the international conventions on human rights that are an integral part of the trade benefit. Nonetheless, Sri Lanka's garment shipments to world market climbed to $4.3 billion in 2013. Last year, in the first nine months it totalled US$3.5 billion and remained poised to hit $4.8 billion by the yearend. SLAEA now expects it to hit $8.5 billion by 2020. Sri Lanka has to depend on high quality and value added products to remain competitive in the market says SLAEA chairman Saif Jafferjee. That view was reaffirmed by the Russian ambassador to Sri Lanka, Alexander Karechav. Addressing SLAEA's annual general meeting as chief guest recently, he showed to his audience a Sri Lanka-made shirt that was bought 44 years ago. It looked as new as when it was bought for his wedding.



Fashion Trends

  • Asia's largest fashion event: This four-day extravaganza of the Hong Kong Fashion Week and World Boutique with 1,800 exhibitors and over 60 events - fashion shows, seminars and discussion sessions - saw many new design creations that will define fashion trend in coming seasons. World Boutique was in its 13th year and the Fashion Week in its 46th edition.

Products and Technology

  • Wool fabrics can now be protected against fungi, algae and bacteria: An anti-microbial treatment for fabrics containing wool has been developed by two German research institutions, the Hohenstein Institute in Bönnigheim and the Leibnitz Institute for Interactive Materials (DWI) in Aachen. It will help protect products based on animal protein fibres against the destructive effect of fungi, algae and bacteria.

  • A versatile cutting and engraving machine: This machine, INDI V 300,for cutting and engraving a variety of materials like textiles, leather, wood, polycarbonate, etc., and products like jeans, t-shirts, and all sorts of ready-made garment is a product of Iberlaser, a division of the Laser Square Group of Spain. It can engrave both legs of a pair of jean or two shirts simultaneously.

  • Biaxtronic CO for good cost-efficiency: Karl Mayer Malimo which specialises in technical textiles has launched a new machine that offers an improved cost-benefit ratio and advantages in terms of its operation and maintenance. Called Biaxtronic CO, it combines the key components of its RS MSUS-V machine with biaxial technology and developed a biaxial machine featuring weft insertion in line with the courses.

  • Fast knitting machine: Santoni has introduced a new machine for fast production of underwear, outwear, sportswear, swimwear and medical wear. It is called Top2 Fast and it is a high-productivity eight feeds single jersey electronic circular knitting machine with two needle by needle selections on each feed with three technical ways (configuration with 16 actuators). It can knit floated plating design and in-laid elastic yarn.

  • New for leather: BASF has recently developed several new things for leather applications. Among them: the finishing top coat Astacin Novomatt DD, Astacin Matting AR, Lepton Enhancer CG and DryFast.

  • Textile technology in heart surgery: Some advanced textile technologies are likely to play a key role in cardiovascular surgeries. Two leading Japanese companies - Teijin and Fukui Wrap Knitting - are developing, in cooperation with Osaka Medical College, a long-lasting regenerative patch for cardiac repair application.

  • Cost-efficient filling for heat regulating apparel: The US company, Outlast Technologies, has introduced a new filling material for heat regulating apparel like parkas as well as quilts used for sleeping comfort. This material called Universe is said to be cost-efficient in comparison to the 100% down as it can reduce the material costs of the end product.

  • Earthcolors to make garments eco-friendly: The dyes and specialty chemicals company, Archroma, has developed a range of biosynthetic dyes derived from agriculture waste - almond shells, saw palmetto, rosemary leaves - and other natural products. It calls this new range Earthcolors.

  • EasyQ to cut lead time: A software system that can help garment manufacturers save lead time has been developed by the Hong Kong-based Aventres Enterprise. Called EasyQ it has a management dashboard and it can generate key summaries.

  • A device for better quality weaving: Switzerland-based Crealet has introduced a new version of the CS1 let-off controller that is used for weaving tuckin or leno selvedges. The new version, CS2, can prevent warp tension variation which is caused mainly by changing the warp bobbin diameter.

  • Straight lock stitcher: The electronics and electrical equipment company Brother has introduced a single needle straight lock stitcher for stable sewing .


 
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