Malaysian exports of textiles and clothing have increased significantly over the years. What has helped Malaysia to achieve this success?
Malaysian exports of textiles and clothing have increased significantly over the years driven by a few factors:
•Increased market access after the phasing out of the export quota system under the Multi Fibre Agreements (MFA) in 2005;
•Improvements in delivery time due to the use of advanced technology and efficient supply chain management;
•Strong external demands from Malaysia's major markets particularly United States of America (USA) and European Union (EU);
•Quality textiles and apparel through the use of quality certified production processes;
•New and attractive apparel designer wears;
•Government assistance in the form of organizing trade missions abroad and provision of matching grants such as the Brand Promotion Grant and Market Development Grant;
•Aggressive marketing campaign through Industry participation in international apparel and trade fairs; and
•Enhancement of market access through FTAs.
How will Malaysia compete against countries with lower labor costs such as China, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand?
Malaysian textiles and apparel manufacturers are encouraged to move up the value chain into producing higher value-add products such as industrial and home textiles, functional fabrics with special features like anti-bacteria, water proof and ultraviolet protection. Skilled workforce in designing and marketing is also essential to provide quality designs and promoting Malaysian made textiles and apparel.
The Government provides assistance among others in the form of the Soft Loan Scheme for Automation and Modernisation:
• to encourage industries to modernise and automate their manufacturing processes including the utilisation of nanotechnology and biological processes for dyeing, printing and finishing; and promoting the application of advanced technology systems in production;
• upgrade production capability and capacity of the industries; and
• assist companies in:
-minimising dependence on labour-intensive activities and foreign labour;
-diversifying into higher value-added activities; and
-rationalising and streamlining their operations through mergers and acquisitions exercise.
The Malaysian Textiles and Apparel Centre (MATAC) run by the Malaysian Textiles Manufacturers Association (MTMA) is provided with funds to manage courses for the upgrading of skills of the textiles and apparel industry workforce.
For export market expansion, the industry can avail itself of the Market Development Grant provided by the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE). The signing of FTAs also provide Malaysian textiles and apparel wider market access including the sourcing of cheaper raw materials from FTA partners.
Industry players are also encouraged to advance from original equipment manufacturers (OEM) to become original design manufacturers (ODM) such as the home-made John Master brand. Financial assistance such as the Brand Promotion Grant is available to help Malaysian manufacturers promote their own brands in the international markets.
DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.