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China & India to be consumption markets of tomorrow
Jan '08
Emerging countries, because of their low labour costs, have long exerted great competitive pressure on the textile sector in industrialized countries. This is by no means a new phenomenon, beginning as it did in the early twentieth century when Japan was developing its textile industry, thus putting an end to the supremacy of the United Kingdom and the United States: Indeed, in 1993 Japan became the top global exporter of cotton goods.

Today around 60% of jobs in the textile-apparel industry worldwide are concentrated in Asian countries, as opposed to 10% in the 27- member European Union. We have therefore been witnessing a gradual shift of the centre of gravity of world manufacturing towards Asia, to the detriment of Europe and the United States.

Today China and India are perceived - quite rightly - as great export powers who have managed to increase their pre-eminence significantly on consumption markets in Europe and the United States. It is also true that these emerging countries, which have among the highest growth rates in the world (+11.3% for China and +8.9% for India in 2007) represent important potential outlets for European exporters.

Come 2010, estimated consumption of apparel articles in China should be superior to 100 billion euros; China will thus be the leading Asian market, bypassing Japan: Japanese expenditures for clothing now being at 85 billion euros.

The Chinese authorities have understood this very well, as among thepriorities figuring in their 11th 5-year plan (for 2006-2010) is a more even distribution of activity in the textile sector, focussing on developing production for their domestic markets. This change should, in the middle term, slow down the growth of Chinese exports.

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