Textile Industry Still
Going Strong

KFTI holds various events to support the industry including Preview in Shanghai ranked the 6th top country in the world performing its job as "loyal son" to the economy

Vice Chairman Kim Dong-soo of the Korea Federation of Textile Industries in this exclusive interview with NewsWorld said textile and fashion goods exports are likely to do as well this year as they did last year in all areas of the industry, including yarns, fabrics and dressmaking to continue to rank as the fifth largest textile country after Italy, Japan, Germany and the United States in terms of textile technology and production and the sixth largest exporter of textile fashion goods in the world.
The industry has found a blue ocean in such areas as super-light and strong high-tech textiles, nano textiles and other new textile materials whose demands have been rising in such industries as automobile, electronics, aviation, medicine, construction and defense. Also, the industry is coping with the rising demand for such new textile materials as recycled materials, green materials and environment-cleansing materials and other materials needed for environmental friendliness and energy saving worldwide. Here are excerpts of what Vice Chairman Kim had to say in the interview:
Question: Would you please elaborate for us the environmental changes in the world textile fashion industry and the growth potential of Korea's fashion textile industry?
Answer: The textile industry grew rapidly with the implementation of the government's economic development plan in the 1960s led by exports of acrylic sweaters and the creation of temporary measures on textile industrial facilities to prevent excess production of cotton textiles in 1967. In the following year, the production of polyester fiber and other chemical fibers surged ahead. In the 1970s, textile exports accounted for over 30 percent of Korea's total annual exports and from 2000, textile manufacturers began to set up plants overseas to launch the globalization of the Korean textile industry.
The textile industry has taken a big role as a major player in Korea's export industry making huge contribution in such areas as employment, production and the number of business firms.
Korea has become the sixth top country in terms of textile exports and technology in the world behind Italy, Japan, Germany and the United States.
In the past 34 years, from 1977 to 2010, the textile fashion industry generated $303 billion in trade surplus, some 1.6 times more than the total trade surplus for Korea, which totaled $189.2 billion.
Since November 2009, textile exports have continued to expand. Exports in 2010 came to $13.9 billion, up 19.5 percent YoY. Textile technologies in such advanced countries as the United States, Japan and Germany have been changing through the fusion of industrial textiles with information technology, biotechnology and nanotechnology. Japanese textile technologies have been the top in the world in such areas as yarn, fabrics and dye with high valued-added function and the production and export of super strong fibers. The United States has been focused on the development of space, aviation and medical fibers and other high-tech super textile and nano-mixed fibers. The textile industry in Germany has been working on top-class smart textiles for military use and materials for automobile and industrial uses, which are very light and strong because they use super and nano textiles as raw materials.
The Korean textile industry has developed in a balanced vertical pattern from up stream to down stream in such areas as yarns, fabrics and dressmaking.
In the area of textiles for clothes, the development has been focused on functional textiles, turning to industrial uses from clothes while upgrading textile technology and products. Korea's advantages have been its IT, automobile and shipbuilding industries whose demands for new textile products have been enabling the industry to continuously develop special textile technologies.
Q: What is the direction of overseas marketing for our textile fashion industry as an export item?
A: We will provide a positive support means for the textile fashion industry to dominate the world textile and fashion export market by overcoming the global economic slump.
As a means to support the industry, the KFTI has been holding the Preview in China and the Preview in Seoul events every year and provide support to other overseas textile events.
Preview in China - The annual event took place in Shanghai from 2003 to 2009 to pave the way for the export of Korean textile products to China and to build cooperation between the Korean and Chinese textile industries by putting on display raw materials and clothes. In 2009, the event attracted 124 companies operating 345 booths exhibiting various textile materials and Korean fashion brands for buyers in China's coastal and southern cities, with Shanghai in the center.
In March, Korea operated the Preview in China booth at the China International Clothing and Accessories Fair in Beijing, the largest such event in the world. A total of 92 Korean firms displayed their textile and fashion goods in 193 booths at the fair during the event from March 29 to 31 in an effort to make inroads into China? textile and fashion markets.
Preview in Seoul - The event has been held every year in Seoul since 2000 to perk up the textile and fashion industry in Korea by paving the way for exports and a resurgence of the textile materials market at home. In 2010, 231 domestic firms operated 300 booths and 50 foreign firms ran 65 booths in the textile event held from Sept. 1 to 3 at COEX in Seoul.
KFTI has been providing support to a number of international textile exhibitions overseas including Texworld Paris SS/FW, held in February and September every year, and Texworld USA SS, held in January every year, to help Korean textile firms find markets abroad. The industry needs expanded government support in overseas marketing as well as domestic operations.
KFTI has also been sending missions abroad to explore new markets for Korean textiles and clothes in an effort to expand exports, often holding consultations with potential importers of Korean textile goods. They have been visiting or will visit such countries as Russia, Azerbaijan, Myanmar, Algeria and South Africa, among others.
Q: What are the special features of the upcoming Preview in Seoul starting Aug. 31?
A: It is an event for makers of fabrics from around the world to exhibit their latest trendy fabrics, which was kicked off in 2000 by KFTI. This year, it will be held at COEX in southern Seoul from Aug. 31 to Sept. 2 with some 230 firms operating some 400 booths with the support of Seoul City, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MKE), Daegu City and KOTRA. It will consist of exhibitions, seminars and trade shows, among other events, putting on display such textile goods as yarns, fabrics, home textiles, and support materials and accessories.
The purpose of holding the event is to help boost the marketing campaigns of domestic textile materials firms overseas so that they may be able to expand their exports and, at the same, invigorate the domestic textile material market. The annual event has been attracting around 10,000 foreign and domestic buyers, especially foreign textile makers, which increased to 50 firms in 2010 operating 65 booths at the event.
The special features of the Preview in Seoul 2011 are the exhibition of textile materials that are environmentally friendly, highly functional and made from recycled materials and an improvement in the exhibition hall's interior.
The global textile event will be made more exhilarating and productive as more foreign buyers will be attracted to come to the event through KOTRA's global operation network. A trade show will also be held to show off clothes made with the textile fabrics.
Q: What are some of the key strategies for Korean textile firms to expand their exports to the extent that they can dominate the global textile and fashion market?
A: Such new textile fabrics as super textiles, smart textiles, nano textiles and environmentally friendly textiles and other new types of textiles have emerged as a blue ocean for the textile industry, providing new growth engines for the industry's future.
By 2015, the global market for those new textile products would grow to $581.4 billion. Automobiles, electronics, medicine, construction and other industries increasingly need super-light, super-strong and other new textile products. As such, we need to invest in textile technologies that are exclusive to advanced countries so that Korea can be a country that has high-tech textile and fashion industries.
KFTI will hold consultations with the MKE to draw up a road map for the development of new textiles for the textile fashion industry.
We have to globalize our fashion design brands so that domestic fashion clothes will be a high-value added industry.
Q: What do you project for business trends for the textile fashion industry in the second half?
A: We expect our textile exports will continue to be similar to in the first half on the strength of the economic recovery in the U.S. and the continued growth of the Chinese economy, although uncertainty looms due to European financial problems and the earthquake and tsunami in northeast Japan.
We expect our textile and fashion industry would be able to benefit from wage rises and the revaluation of the yuan of China, which would weaken China's competitive edge in the world.
International prices of raw cotton and chemical fiber raw materials are projected to be stabilized in the second half, although they would be higher than what they were in the first part of the year, eating up the profit levels of the textile and fashion firms. The domestic market is likely to have a small rise due to the increases in wages and employment in the second half. The SPA brand in the fashion industry and the rapid expansion of fast fashion are projected to help consumer spending increase and the rapid development of the leisure culture and outdoor life fever, which are likely to be a positive factor for a domestic market surge.
The textile and fashion firms would be able to overcome various uncertainties in the economy backed up their experiences, competitive power and expanded global marketing to continue to do well in the second half.
Q: What do you project for trends in the export and import of textile goods in the second half?
A: In the second half, textile exports are likely to be reduced a little from the first half, although they did well in Q1, rising 25.7 percent following the 19.5 percent increase in 2010.
By product, textile raw materials, yarns, and fabrics are likely to continue to increase in exports as major advanced countries benefit from their economic recovery in their clothing exports raising the need for imports of raw materials.
Exports to China, a major market for textile goods and production base countries like Vietnam and Indonesia are in for a continued increase in exports. Total textile exports are projected to reach $153.3 billion this year up 10.3 percent YoY. nw

Vice Chairman Kim Dong-soo of the Korea Federation of Textile Industries.

Photos on Courtesy of KFTI

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