Global textile and apparel industry has undergone several transformations, with the Asian countries taking the lead; currently. Apparel industry, being more labor intensive, and requiring less capital investment, is moving its focus towards developing countries, especially in the Asian region. A decrease in the apparel production of industrialized countries, and a concurrent increase in the production of developing countries indicate this. Also a drastic increase can be observed in the apparel exports of the latter which again stresses the same fact.
Increasing share in Asias export basket:
Mr. DPS Kohli, Chairman, Koutons Retail India, in an interaction with Fibre2fashion says, "We are particularly focusing on Middle east markets as also alternatives in China for our overseas expansion."
Mr. Surinder Anand, Executive Secretary of Garment Exporters Association, lists out the competitive advantages of Bangladesh exporters."First and foremost is the lower manufacturing cost due to cheap labor and simplified labor laws. The economies of scale because of bigger and larger manufacturing units; availability of fabric at competitive rates, simplified procedures, labor laws are more flexible and conducive and last but not the least full support and blessings of their Government".
Comparative study of the declining exports of Western countries and a simultaneous growth in the apparel exports of countries from the Asian region:
Big apparel exporters to the global market are mainly from the Asia Pacific region including countries like; India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Philippines, Hong Kong, Pakistan, and Indonesia. In terms of growth rate, emerging economies have a higher growth rate, compared with the developed countries.
Push and the Pull:
The major factor behind the Asian countries, being able to sustain their exports over the decade, and also develop a multilayered sourcing hierarchy is partially related to the wage rates, and policies existing in these countries.
Neoclassical economics explains this as, apparel industry, being more labor-intensive, will see growth potential on countries with lowest wages. Here both push, and pull factors influence this transformation. Factors such as; wage hikes, and strict environmental standardization of developing countries, especially regarding the textile and apparels act as push factors. Low wages, abundant work force, bureaucratic co-ordination, financial incentives, and good infrastructure of the developing countries are the pull factors.
The 2020 predictions:
While the industrialized nations see decline in their apparel sectors, fresh opportunities will be created for the developing countries making its exports to soar up to USD 140 billion by 2020. Industry analysts predict good growth potential for apparels from developing countries. Hence possibilities exist, that an additional market demand for USD 340 billion may also be created. China, despite of the rising input and wage costs, will retail its position as the world biggest apparel exporter. Indias share in the global textile and apparel trade during 2009 was 4.5%. By 2015, it is estimated to grow to 5.6%, and by 2020 it is positively expected to become 8%. India has the potential to double its share in the global textile trade.
Clothing industry is a main source of foreign exchange revenue generation. The time when global competition is getting intense, Asian countries foresee good potential in the global market.
1. Data source: Technopak, & UN Comtrade