ITMF Global Textile Summit
ITMF's recent textile summit in Egypt focused on the theme 'Textile Competitiveness in an Integrated World.'
Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor
Cairo, the capital city of Egypt — famous for its
pyramids — hosted the ITMF annual conference
for the sixth time.
This conference report can only be an overview of a broad variety of papers given at the event. But one thing is for sure: times have changed in the consciousness among the top league in textiles. Whoever mentioned the gentle use of resources, ecology and environment within the last few years and even spoke about it in public was often called a “green dreamer.” These topics were hot for environmental activists and other environmental advocates, but hardly for the agenda of an ITMF conference. This has changed drastically for several reasons now because it is about nothing else than the future of the planet. Many speakers referred to this other way of doing business and appealed to the new environmental consciousness.
Dr. Christian Schindler, director general, ITMF, reported the latest textile machinery investment trends to conference attendees.
Sixth Time In Cairo
ITMF President Walter Simeoni welcomed some 140 participants from 27 countries to the Egyptian capital. The as-usual very-well-organized conference took place in Cairo for the sixth time in the 103 years of the Federation’s existence. Simeoni, General Manager of the South African Frame Textile Group, mentioned the return to Cairo underlines the importance of the Egyptian textile industry for the world. He also described the title and general theme of the conference, “ Textile Competitiveness in an Integrated World,” as a wake-up call for the continent with its 912 million inhabitants in 47 countries and a textile industry that had been flourishing some four decades ago.
Simeoni said there is one important aspect that Africa can learn from China: China does not permit the importation of second-hand clothing. One of the major reasons for the destruction of the textile value chain within the African continent was and still is the free and unabated flow of second-hand clothing. If the newly created African Union could pass a directive to ban the importation of second-hand clothing into the continent, hundreds of thousands of new jobs could be created.
Walter Simeoni, ITMF president and general manager of the South African Frame Textile Group, welcomed attendees to the ITMF conference.
The International Cotton Market And China’s Role
Ray Butler, managing director, Cotlook Ltd., England, opened the fiber session, which was chaired, as usual, by Andrew Macdonald. He gave a very broad view of the actual situation by mentioning that the interdependence of the international market and China’s cotton market is growing. China is by far the biggest cotton producer and consumer, and the biggest importer. Despite persisting difficulties, China is increasingly engaging itself in relation to the cotton and textile sectors. This involvement surely will increase as the door is open now for foreign trading companies to engage in China’s domestic cotton trade.
Butler mentioned there has been a sharp rise during the last three seasons in world cotton consumption. Cotton consumption grew during the decade ending in 2003-04, and in fact declined in some seasons. The 2004-05 season saw a virtually unprecedented leap of around 10 percent, and subsequent seasons have witnessed above-average growth of 4 percent per season.
Although cotton prices have been historically cheap, the increase in consumption has probably resulted more from strong worldwide economic growth, from investment trends established prior to China’s accession to the World Trade Organization and before the Agreement on Textiles and Clothing expired, and the anticipated subsequent removal of quota restrictions. The year 2004-05 was an exceptional agricultural year, in that world cotton production attained what was then a new record of more than 26 million metric tons. Something other than merely the weather was at work, since production in 2005-06 fell back only modestly, and 2006-07 saw another record.
World yields have increased enormously — the average so far this decade has been 18 percent more than during the second half of the 1990s, and estimated yield in 2006-07 was 773 kilograms per hectare. In the recent past, India has witnessed an increase in yield of more than 70 percent; Brazil, around 60 percent; China, 40 percent; and the United States, 33 percent. In cotton, the period has witnessed another “green revolution,” driven by the adoption of better farming practices and, specifically, the impact of genetically modified cotton strains. India, with the world’s largest cotton area, has an average yield that is still only about two-thirds of the world average, with potential for further yield gains. Also, Brazil has the land available to increase plantings of cotton and cotton’s main competitor crops.
The focus today is on sustainable cotton production, cotton being a renewable resource with advantageous fiber properties. Genetically modified seed varieties are contributing towards that goal, as they reduce pesticide use and thereby lower farmers’ costs.
Butler also mentioned that new Chinese statistics indicate the global cotton market changed a lot. “For years, the cotton world has relied on data published at intervals by China’s National Bureau of Statistics, both for cotton production and for yarn output, from which fiber consumption estimates have traditionally been calculated,” he said. “These have increasingly come into question, particularly during the 2006-07 season, when the Chinese market did not behave as most people anticipated.”
For Ray Butler, the key question may well be not production, but consumption. The 2008-09 season could see consumption outstrip production by another large margin, thus taking the world into territory that one has not witnessed for many a year. Butler summarized his paper by saying that the interdependence of the international market and China’s cotton market is growing.
Ray Butler (right), managing director, Cotlook Ltd., opened the 2007 ITMF conference fiber session, which was chaired by Andrew Macdonald (left).
China’s New Cotton Face
John Cheh, vice chairman and COO, Hong Kong-based Esquel Group, emphasized in his presentation, “The new Face of China’s Cotton Industry,” that the renminbi’s value had increased by 10.5 percent since July 2005 and is forecast to rise by 5 to 10 percent per year during the next two years, according to economists’ estimates. In 2005, minimum wages rose by 20 to 40 percent, and social security expenses by 30 to 60 percent. At the same time, tax rebates for textiles and garments were reduced from 17 percent to 13 percent in 2004, and to 11 percent in 2007. Another burden was the new deposit for the processing industry: Now the companies need to pay a deposit of tariff and value-added tax for imported materials processed and exported as final goods from China. Cheh still considers China to be the leading source for garments, but Vietnam has already caught up.
Further sessions mentioned supply chain management, retailing in a globalized world, energy and renewable resources, and Egypt’s place in the textile marketplace. Dr. Christian Schindler, director general, ITMF, reported on the latest textile machinery investment trends. At the end of the conference, participants had the opportunity to visit Setcore, a spinning mill in Alexandria, Egypt.
John Cheh, vice chairman and COO, Esquel Group, discussed China’s cotton industry.
Ayman Nassar, president of Egypt Textile Cotton, gave an overview of technology requirements for the 21st century. In his vision, he mentioned textiles and apparel innovation is based on a safe and comfortable environment, effective protection and health care, innovative mobility, transport and energy solutions, the efficient use of natural resources and protection of the environment. The industry will consolidate and the companies will restructure with cut costs and become leaner due to the rising global competition.
Everybody, including Egyptian companies, is looking for higher-added-value products, and therefore, research and innovation become more important than ever. New applications for textiles — such as transport, engineering, construction, agriculture, medical, and power and environmental technologies — were just a few examples Nassar mentioned.
The Egyptian textile industry is changing, leaving the ivory tower to enter real life. Cotton production must be re-engineered and yield criteria re-evaluated; and efficient management of total acreage is required. Nassar is convinced that in the future, Egyptian cotton will be harvested by machines to withstand the global pressure from other cotton-growing countries.
Ayman Nassar, president, Egypt Textile Cotton, spoke about technology requirements.
Organic cotton has become synonymous with environmentally friendly cotton production in the last few years. Peter Tschannen, deputy managing director, Remei AG, Switzerland, has worked in the organic cotton field for many years. He said that organic cotton is more than a niche market, in spite of the small world market for organic cotton. World cotton production in 2006-07 was 25.3 million tons, and organic cotton production reached 49,959 tons, less than 0.2 percent of the total.
The organic cotton business is based on four principles: health; ecology; fairness; and care. Since 1995, Tschannen’s company has partnered with one of the biggest retailers in Switzerland. To be successful, one needs reliable partners, working together along the whole production process. Tschannen said the integrated chain needs new skills:
• Production must be managed with available raw materials.
• Stocks must be available at every crucial point — just-in-time manufacturing.
• Price, ecology and social compliance must be balanced out — norms define the standards.
• Partners are not easily exchangeable.
• Innovation should be focused to strengthen partners.
• There must be continuous risk assessment throughout the chain.
Shortening the production chain means rationalization resulting from a sustainable approach. On a global scale, a breakthrough occurred when Wal-Mart started selling organic cotton in 2005. Other brands then followed.
In his conclusion, Tschannen said organic cotton is more than a niche market. It is an advantage for agriculture and the individual farmer, the industry along the chain, innovative entrepreneurs, consumers, and the environment. However, it needs a strong chain with a visionary network manager, and social transparency is a must.
Peter Tschannen, deputy managing director, Remei AG, spoke about organic cotton.
The Consumer Decides
The attitude of the modern customer has changed dramatically. As some speakers reported, today, the power of the customer is stronger than ever, and environmental consciousness is rising permanently. After surveys, consumers want to know always more — they know more about what goods are made of and by which means their clothing is produced. Global labels that stand for environmentally compatible and socially conscious production are enormously important for the big brands to survive. Products produced in an environmentally harmless manner — so that mankind can live in an integrated world and the future has a future — enjoy the sympathy of consumers.
ITMF At A Glance
The International Textile Manufacturers Federation (ITMF) is one of the oldest non-governmental organizations in the world. It was founded in 1904, at a meeting held in Zurich, Switzerland, and convened at the initiative of the British cotton spinning industry. That’s why it still has a very close relationship to the whole cotton industry.
ITMF is probably the most important and high-ranking textile association around the world. Members are associations and other constituted organizations of textile manufacturers. There can be only one member association from each country. Associate members include not only associations and other constituted textile manufacturers’ organizations in countries already represented by a member association, but also associations allied to the textile industry. More recently, it has been possible to become a corporate member of ITMF. These corporate members are manufacturers of textiles or of products allied to the textile industry, including textile machinery and retailers.
More information and the papers from the 2007 conference are available at www.itmf.org. The next ITMF conference host will be the island of Mauritius in October 2008.
国际纺织商协会 (International Federation of Textile Manufacturers, ITMF) 2007年度的国际会议，最近于埃及开罗成功闭幕。这 个纺织业及纺织工程业的全球盛事，蔚为纺织业界的重要活动之一。大会透过研讨会，向高层的业者发表纺织业内最优质的论 文。今年的研讨会主题，为"在世界融和中的纺织竞争"("Textile Competitiveness in an Integrated World")。
ITMF 总裁Walter Simeoni 于会上向来自27个国家的140名与会者表示欢迎。协会成立后 的103年内，曾先后多次于开罗举行研讨会，而今届这个如常"统筹得甚为成功"的会议，已 是开罗的第六届会议。同时身为South African Frame Textile Group 总经理 的Simeoni 表示，再次于开罗举行会议，反映埃及纺织业于全球纺织业上，占有重要的席位。 此外，他又简述了会议的纲领及各项主题。纺织业约于40年前，在这个拥有47个国家、9 亿1千2百万人口的地域蓬勃发展；时至今日，大会以"全球融和下的纺织业竞争力"为主 题，唤醒业者对有关问题的关注。
与纤维有关的研讨会向由Andrew Macdonald担当主持，至于今届掀开会议序幕的讲者，则 为英国Cotlook Ltd. Ray 董事长Butler。他首先概述市场大势，指 出国际市场互相依 存，而中国的棉花市场则趋于增长。中国现时集全球最大的棉花生产、消耗及进口国于一身；虽然经历不少困难，中国的棉花及纺织业依然蓬勃增长。在中国开放纺织业予海外商 家、允 许海外企业参与国内棉花贸易的形势下，中国纺织业的前景将进一步走俏。
全球产量大幅增长 -- 2000年以来一直现出高增长，平均增幅较1990年代下旬高出18%，预 期2006至07年度的产量为每公顷773 公斤。近年各国表现，以印度的数字最为突出，产 量 上扬逾70%；巴西约60%；中国 40%；美国33%。 就棉花业言，期间业界走上另一"绿色"革命 之路，主因是棉农采用了更有效的耕作方式，其中尤以种植基因改造棉花的影响最大。拥 有全球最大植棉面积的印度，现时平均产量只有全球平均数字的三份之二，预期该国的产 量将有所突破。此外，巴西拥有大量合适的土地，可供开发为植棉地，以及用作种植可取代 棉花的主要植物。
大会的其它研讨主题，尚包括供应链管理、全球一体化下的零售事务、能源及再生资源，以及埃及在纺织市场上的地位等。ITMF 总裁Christian Schindler 博士则以最新的纺织机械投资趋势为题发表论文。大会更在结束前，安排与会者参观位于埃及亚历山大市的纺纱企业Setcore 的厂房。
过去数年，有机棉成为环保产棉的代名词。瑞士Remei AG 副董事长Peter Tschannen为有机棉的资深业者，他表示虽然有机棉在全球市场上的销量不多，但行业并非只有狭小市场。
有机棉的生产，以四大原则为本：健康、生态、公平及关爱。Tschannen 的公司自1995年起，便与瑞士大型的零售商缔结合作关系。要取得成功，企业必须与可靠的合作伙伴，于 整个生产过程中紧密合作。Tschannen 指出，生产的综合链须具有崭新的技术：