Taiwan Fibre Industry: Shift In Production Base

Global demand of man made fibreWorld demand for manufactured fibres is projected to increase 5.4 per cent annually to about 44 million metric tons in 2005, valued at US$120 billion. Manufactured fibres will continue to increase their market share at the costs of natural fibres expanding to nearly two-thirds of total mill fibre consumption in 2005 based on expanding applications in apparel and home furnishings, as well as continuing strength for synthetics in tufted carpeting and industrial applications.It is noticed that, in the future, the contribution of natural fibres will decrease as the contribution of artificial fibres rises. It is projected that 65 million tons of synthetic yarn will be produced globally in 2010; nearly 30 million tons of which will be polyester, 4 million acrylic, 5 million polyamide and 2 million cellulose.Taiwan’s man made fibre industryIn the last five decades, the textile industry has created an important position in exports, earning huge revenues of foreign exchange for Taiwan. Though, in the second half of the 1980s, many problems like labour shortages, increasing overhead costs, prohibitive land prices and environmental protection forced many textile houses to relocate a part or all of their production to Southeast Asia and China in order to stay competitive.Hence textiles are called as one of Taiwan’s labour-intensive “traditional industries.” Those textile companies that stayed in Taiwan were forced to improve. Small, family-run businesses have been transformed into medium-sized or large companies, with cost-effective measures and new management practice to enhance quality and productivity. Since Taiwan does not produce cotton, wool, silk, linen, or other natural raw materials, the domestic textile industry has developed man-made fabrics, which have demonstrated to be outstanding options to natural products.Taiwan’s petrochemical industry covers 50 upper and middle-stream producers located at Kaohsiung. In 2002, the industry had a production value of US$17.6 billion (apart from textile and plastics related industries), of which 62.7 per cent was sold in the domestic market. Taiwan’s petrochemical production capacity, as calculated by ethylene output, was capable to fulfill about 94 per cent of actual domestic demand in 2002.Today, Taiwan’s man-made fibres have gained an important position in the world’s textile industry. In 2002, Taiwan made over three million tons of man-made fibre, which stood second in the world. Polyester amounted for 80 per cent of the total output and ranked Taiwan as the world’s second largest manufacturer of this fibre. That same year, Taiwan’s export and import amounted to over US$14.6 billion of textiles, including fibre, yarn, fabric, garments and accessories. Hong Kong was the main target for Taiwan’s textile exports, followed by the United States and ASEAN countries. The textile industry has been one of Taiwan’s major shares in maintaining the island’s favorable trade balance.The production of man-made fibre of Taiwan for the year 2005 has been registering a continuous decline in output that began in November 2004. Production fell to a record low of 258,970 tons in November 2004. It further declined in November 2005 to 9.2 percent from year ago levels to 234,900 tons. Man-made fibre production declined to 14.6 percent from year ago levels to 2,664,122 tons for the January through November 2005 period. This is in contrast to last years 0.3 percent increase to levels of 3,341,900 tonsTaiwan’s exports to ChinaIn the first four months of 2005, Taiwan exported $9.22 billion worth products and services to the Chinese. Taiwan’s mainland-bound exports for the January-April period saw a raise of 21.2 per cent over the same period in 2004. Major export products to China covered electrical equipment and parts, machine tools, plastics, steel, synthetic fibres, optical products, organic chemicals, industrial textiles and brass and bronze products. In the interim, Taiwan gained a trade surplus of $6.99 billion against the mainland in the first four months of 2005, up 23.4 per cent over the year-earlier level.China’s potent marketThe stiff competition has persisted with China receiving further market shares. Now the Chinese polyester industry posses more than half the world polyester fibre and yarn spinning business. There was only one nation (PR China) with a growth rate in all polyester sub-segments in 2005. Against this, the industries in South Korea and Taiwan lost an aggregated production volume of 650,000 tons.There is a remarkable growth in mill demand for polyester filament in China. Even so, capacity has increased faster in the last few years, leading to a decline in operating costs and pressure on fibre prices. With new volume still being established, operating costs are set to increase only slowly out to 2005. The question is whether China, and the world, will be capable to keep up to these volumes. China’s volumes have a great effect on the world picture where we again see low operating cost that recover only slowly.This emphasises the stress on fibre prices from excess capacity in this segment of the fibre market. In the 1990′s, China’s contribution of mill demand for acrylic, polyester filament and polyester staple was between 13.9 per cent and 18.7 per cent. By 2020, China could gain well, up a 44.5 per cent contribution of mill demand for acrylic, a 49.3 per cent share of mill demand for polyester filament and a 47.2 per cent share of mill demand for polyester staple.The yearly yield of Taiwan’s manmade fibre industry has stayed stable at around 3.1 million tons a year since 2000, but earning from fibre sales is increasing as fibre manufacturers are implementing various techniques and are shifting to production of higher-margin, higher-tech fibres and yarns.The output declined in 2005 because of the phase-out of textile quotas and curbing migration of fibre production to mainland China. While some Taiwanese fibre companies implemented a product diversification strategy to come across the competitive challenges of the market, others such as the Juda Fibre Ltd., Jinan, China, consider that the migration of fibre industry is possible.In 1992, a Taiwanese company established three weaving factories in Jinan, the capital of Shangdong province in China. The company asked Juda Fibre to set up a fibre factory to provide the weaving mills with a local source of raw material. Four years later, it has established a joint venture in Jinan with a local enterprise – the Jinan Chemical Fibre Factory – and emerged as Juda, a new company which means holding all together. In 1999, it established a second company, Nature Fibre Ltd. with its own capital. With more than $60 million worth of fibre exports to the USA, Brazil, Southeast Asia and the Middle East in the past eight years, Juda now foresees the China market as its prospectus. They consider that though Taiwanese fibre companies have dominated the market for high-tech fibres, this control will soon disappear as manufacturers in China are gaining fast. China can now make within two years any type of high-tech fibre that Taiwan companies can produce.It is believed that if Taiwanese fibre manufacturers don’t shift their manufacturing to the China soon, they will lose their good break in China’s manmade fibre market.The Taiwan Man-Made Fibre Industries Association (TMMFA), which possesses 41 members and affiliates, including most of the leading manmade fibre manufacturers in Taiwan, has been exploring the China market for years. In the last few years, it had many investment visits in various parts of China and motivated its members to capture the potential market through the already established ventures.One of the confidences to achievement in China is to know the culture diversities of the various parts of China. For instance, Juda’s achievement is at least partly attributed to the Jinan people’s good nature and honesty.In contrast, another company that made golf clubs established its factory in a different South China city and eventually ended up paying for a costly relocation to a different area. The purpose, employees and local representatives were constantly looking for more benefits from the company and equipment and materials were often stolen and local government representatives were always on a look for something in order to provide the needed services and to help avoid bureaucratic problems.Local economic policy is another problem. There are many areas with a prospective future in China, but not all areas are simple to deal with and local policy is a huge obstruction. Juda came in to the China market following Taiwan’s downstream textile enterprises and assistance by local enterprises. It set up itself in the local community, made business with local companies and offered to local patronage. This grovels to Juda with the community.Another aspect that is normally ignored by companies entering China is correctly calculating all the costs of executing business.For instance, an apparel factory was in problem after its set up in an eastern city of Guangdong province partly due to cost of transportation. It send more than half of its products to Europe and Middle East through Hong Kong, and the transport cost amounted to around $500 per container, greater than that of the center Guangdong cities which have greater labor costs. It is noted that the dissimilarity in labor costs did not pay off for the higher costs of shipping. Hence, it is a question of selection of locations, and was shown to be ill-advised, despite the area’s comparatively lower labor costs.There are various evaluations of the China’s fibre market, but two major trends are clearly marked. Firstly, China’s manmade fibre market will keep prospering. The split between the rich and the poor has been a main dilemma in China. Beijing has considered this as a nuisance to the regime and has initiated to solve the problem. Though the prospects are still in a mist, considerably more rapidly economic development in the rural parts, with a population of 900 million, can be estimated. Compelling the growth in local consumption of manmade fibres will be the sustainable economic development in the rural areas.Secondly, low labor costs will be China’s benefit for a long time. Its 900 million rural residents constitute a large pool of low-cost workers. Chinese people earn $40 (in smaller inland cities and rural areas) to $100 a month. And even if the raise in their earning power is greater than that of the GDP, which Beijing anticipates, China will stay a hotbed for labor-intensive industries, such as manmade fibre production in the next decade. That’s why it is suggested not only to explore the China market but wager their future on it.

Comments are closed.