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Officials and exporters remain 'upbeat' about trade outlook

Date: 2019-10-17

Officials and exporters said they remain upbeat about the trade outlook and that they've been responding actively to adapt to market shifts.

"Textile companies are shifting focus in the wake of new market trends to develop an industrial cluster and to expedite overseas expansion, as well as the adoption of smart manufacturing technologies in the face of rising costs," said Cao Jiachang, chairman of the China Chamber of Commerce for the Import and Export of Textile and Apparel.

"Export trade will see new opportunities under the newly-announced development plan to seek integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta region and a new round of opening-up efforts is also under way," Deputy Director Shen Weihua at the Shanghai Commerce Commission told the Import and Export Forum of East China Fair on Friday. "We need to strengthen our development foundation and secure stable development amid a complicated external situation."

Katherine Zhu, manager of the No.8 Import and Export Department at Shanghai Dragon Corporation, an affiliate of Shangtex Holding Corp, said its Ethiopian sweater factory began operation in mid 2018.

It produces about 100,000 garments and pieces of apparel, with the production cost now about 20 percent less than those made in southeast Asian countries.

"Overseas garment retailers have seen flat sales performance over the past year and have been demanding a lower procurement price — having a manufacturing presence in Africa has helped lower our production costs to secure future orders," she told Shanghai Daily.

The local downstream and upstream industry chain still needs two or three more years to be built up, and the garments will be exported to buyers in Europe and America, she noted.

It's also the first African manufacturing site for a Shanghai-headquartered company as the textile and apparel company actively respond to the Belt and Road initiative.

Textile and apparel exports from eastern China account for two thirds of the total textile export in the country last year.

China's total textile export size rose 8.1 percent last year to US$119.1 billion, while apparel export remained almost unchanged, edging up 0.3 percent at US$157.6 billion, as most manufacturers are moving their factory lines to southeast Asian countries where labor costs are lower.

Apparel and textile export to Belt and Road nations have been on the rise for the past three years, and climbed 5.3 percent last year, while export to ASEAN countries jumped 11.7 percent, the fastest growth rate among major markets.

Cao from the China Chamber of Commerce for the Import and Export of Textile and Apparel also called for apparel manufacturers to target domestic consumption and to cater for consumers' increasing demands for higher quality garments and textile products.

The 29th East China Fair kicked off today and will run until Monday. It has attracted over 4,000 companies, including more than 500 overseas enterprises.

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