Twenty-first Century "maritime Silk Road" and the international communication platform

CAEXPO Weaves a Closer Cooperation Net on China-ASEAN Textile Industry

2023-06-16 09:42:07   By:China-ASEAN    Hits:

Written by Li Hongting / Translated by Tang Huiqun

The textile and apparel industry serves as a traditional pillar industry in China and an essential industry for ASEAN countries and regions’ livelihoods that promotes industrialization, generates national revenue, and provides a large number of jobs.

The textile and apparel industry in ASEAN countries is experiencing significant growth, resulting in related products becoming promising and complementary commodities in trade between China and ASEAN. As a major platform for enhancing economic and trade cooperation between China and ASEAN countries, the China-ASEAN Expo, abbreviated as CAEXPO, has provided numerous opportunities for the textile industries of both sides since its inception. The platform has tied up China-ASEAN cooperation in the textile industry through trade promotion events such as exhibitions and conferences that have yielded good results. 

Close partnership for textile cooperation

The development of the textile industry in China and ASEAN countries has their strengths and are complementary to each other.

China is home to a complete supply chain for the textile industry and excels in research and development, high value-added, short lead times, and handling of complex orders. At the same time, as the world’s largest textile producer and exporter, China’s production of raw fibers, the craftsmanship of yarn and cotton cloth, home textile manufacturing, and equipment are mostly at the leading edge of the world. On the other hand, the textile and apparel industry is one of the important manufacturing industries in ASEAN countries. For instance, Southeast Asia countries enjoy abundant supplies of inexpensive labor and low-cost raw materials, coupled with favorable policies that attract foreign investment. Their preferential duty in European Union and North American markets also advances the development of the sector.

Vietnam, for example, is the world’s third-largest clothing exporter, and textiles are one of its key exports. In recent years, Vietnam has utilized the new opportunities brought by a large number of free trade agreements that cover the whole textile industry chain, constantly absorbing foreign and domestic investment to vigorously develop its textile industry. In Indonesia, the Ministry of Industry has identified the textile and garment industry as one of the five priority sectors in Indonesia’s Industry 4.0 plan. In addition, efforts will be made to strengthen human resources training, technological upgrading, and digital technology to make the textile industry more competitive.

These days have seen many Chinese textile and garment enterprises invest in and set up factories in ASEAN countries, while these countries have undertaken the transfer of a large number of garment orders. China and ASEAN have jointly promoted the development of the textile and garment industries at an international level.

In Myanmar, Chinese textile and garment factories account for about 65-70% of the total; Vietnam and Cambodia are also home to a variety of Chinese clothing companies. Chinese enterprises have increased investment in the area around Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Large textile enterprises, such as Huafu, Texhong, Luthai Textile, and Bros, have expanded their production capacity and set up cotton bases and garment processing bases in Vietnam. The export processing zones and garment processing bases set up in Cambodia by HOdo Group and Shenzhou International Group Holdings Limited are also regarded as “Going Global” examples of Chinese textile enterprises in Southeast Asia that have generated economic benefits for both China and ASEAN.

In 2013, ASEAN surpassed Japan as the third-largest market for Chinese textile and garment exports. In 2022, 36,000 enterprises above the designated size in China’s textile industry had their main business revenue exceeded 5.2 trillion yuan, and the total export volume of textile and apparel reached a new record high. In this context, the ASEAN market emerged as the largest export market of China’s textile industry for the first time that year.

It is undoubtedly that China and ASEAN are major partners of each other in international textile production capacity cooperation. Under the circumstances, CAEXPO, a pragmatic platform to promote regional integration, has been actively committed to expanding the channels and outcomes for bilateral cooperation.

Multi-form connectivity for fruitful textile cooperation

The CAEXPO has provided a dialogue platform for the textile industry of China and ASEAN countries to show their advantages. Then it helped the textile industry to turn its advantages into real skills. Many textile enterprises and their products have benefited from the CAEXPO.

Chinese enterprise Texhong, one of the world’s largest cotton textile manufacturers, has participated in the CAEXPO many times. At the 15th CAEXPO, Myanmar Textile Association and Guangxi Economic and Trade Vocational Institute signed a cooperation agreement on technical training for the CAEXPO textile industry. Lao textiles and Myanmar garments are hot products at the CAEXPO that are favored by many visitors. Textile related investment and trade have also found new opportunities for cooperation in the platform.

At the 19th CA EX PO in 2022, 267 cooperation projects with a total investment of 413 billion yuan were signed. Among those projects, six fields namely the textile & light industry, new high-end metal materials, green environmental protection, health and cultural tourism and sports, new green chemical materials, and mechanical equipment manufacturing, are hot investments with the signed amount accounting for more than 70%. In Guangxi, the textile and apparel industry base in southwest China, many cities including Nanning, Liuzhou, Guigang, and Yulin have signed investment projects involving textile and apparel.

On March 17, 2023, the Guangxi ASEAN International Textile Clothing Industry Expo (short for GATE), co-sponsored by the China-ASEAN Expo Secretariat, China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Textiles, Guangxi Chamber of International Commerce, China National Machinery Industry International Co., Ltd., Guangxi International Expositions Group Co., Ltd., was held in Nanning International Convention and Exhibition Center. Through the integration of conferences, performances, and awards, the Expo has provided a platform for the whole industry chain of textile and apparel, such as enterprises of apparel materials, manufacturing, trade, and merchants to supply and sell goods, as well as communication online or onsite. It helps promote the expansion of domestic demand, stabilize foreign trade, galvanize production and sales, and spur consumption, booming the China-ASEAN textile and apparel industry.

It is said that the GATE has set up 10 exhibition zones and more than 600 booths with an area of 20,000 square meters, covering the whole industry chain of textile and apparel. More than 400 participants in the Chinese textile and apparel industry cluster attended the exhibitions. On the opening day, many enterprises of materials, manufacturing, and trade in the textile and garment industry chain, as well as investors, buyers, dealers, and sellers on the e-commerce platform were present to look for business opportunities, select and purchases products, as well as negotiate cooperation. Triumphant news of successful deals keeps pouring in on the spot.

In addition, the GATE entails various trade activities such as the ASEAN Textile and Apparel Cross-border E-commerce Summit & Procurement Matching, Textile and Apparel Industry Investment Promotion Conference, Ethnic Fashion Show, China-ASEAN Textile and Apparel Industry Development Forum, Green Printing and Dyeing and Carbon Neutral Development Summit Forum, Textile Material Innovation Forum, and business visits. These events have facilitated a multi-level and multi-field platform for China-ASEAN textile cooperation, and have made the expo an excellent sample for textile exhibitions worldwide.

Visitors buy textile products at the 19th CAEXPO (Photo: Feng Chulin)

Embracing opportunity of the new era to renew exhibitions

Amidst such complex and volatile international circumstances, the textile industry of China and ASEAN should optimize their products’ structure to a more international vision, and improve their reputation globally, so as to have more initiative in trade.

Keeping up with the times, the CAEXPO has created a platform for industrial service that offers one-stop exhibitions, interactive experiences, e-commerce summits, fashion shows, supply and demand matching, investment promotion, and resource matching. This platform will further unleash the region’s unique advantages in resources, industry, and market, making it an important carrier for the sustainable development of the China-ASEAN light and textile industry in the world. It also aims to find the driving force for the transformation and upgrading of the China-ASEAN textile and apparel industry.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the CAEXPO set up an epidemic prevention and public health exhibition area, where Guangxi Textile & Garments Design and Research Institute Co., Ltd. displayed a variety of reusable medical protective clothing, sharing new trends, achievements, and practices in the medical industry with ASEAN countries. Apart from providing traditional services to exhibitors, the CAEXPO cooperated with the Online CAEXPO and App Exhibition Space-Time to build an online B2B e-commerce cluster trading platform for the textile and apparel industry, forming a resilient and dynamic online digital supply chain ecosystem.

Since the implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) on January 1, 2022, the agreement has created significant benefits and institutional dividends for regional trade and investment in the textile and apparel industry. It also helps promote production cooperation between China and ASEAN countries and drives the expansion of bilateral trade. Moreover, the international production cooperation system between China and ASEAN countries’ textile and apparel industries will be further improved. In addition, RCEP’s investment facilitation and liberalization will also promote investment interaction in the industry within the region, resulting in a more collaborative production capacity cooperation system and injecting new momentum into cross-border investment and economic growth in the region and even the world.

With the RCEP agreement in effect, the CAEXPO has upgraded its services from catering to China and AESAN to serving RCEP by establishing exhibition areas for RCEP countries, ASEAN countries, and RCEP products. This move has opened the market of both ASEAN and RCEP countries, which not only digs out new collaboration opportunities between China and ASEAN but also catalyzes the transformation and upgrading of the textile industry in the region.

It can be foreseen that an ever-evolving CAEXPO is releasing more energy that made the future of China and ASEAN's textile industry more promising.

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