Specialty Fabrics Review June 2019 - 58

FOCUS

WORLD VIEWS

Market and supplier
China is working for increasing growth of industrial
fabrics exports as domestic demand decreases.
BY EUGENE GERDEN

T

he technical textile and industrial fabrics industry in China may receive a massive impetus
for further growth this year, thanks to the recently announced plans of leading local
producers and the national government, who are working to create a significant increase
of exports in this market. At present, China remains the world's leading producer of technical
textiles and industrial fabrics, with a global market share of 30 percent. Specialty textiles' share
of overall light industry in China is estimated at 20 percent, in terms of both volume and value.
Currently, about 90 percent of the Chinese annual domestic production has been sold
within the country, with only 10 percent being shipped as exports. This situation helped to
prevent the rapid growth of the industry, and has been one of the main obstacles for more
active development.
The ongoing stagnation of the Chinese national economy, however, caused in part by
the recent trade wars with the United States and the devaluation of the yuan, may result in
a change in the current balance in the market.

Trade impacts
The U.S. trade deficit with China was
$419 billion in 2018; U.S. exports to
China were $120 billion while imports
from China were $540 billion.
The biggest categories of U.S.
imports from China were computers
and accessories, cell phones, and
apparel and footwear. (Many of these
imports are from U.S. manufacturers
that send raw materials to China for
low-cost assembly. Once shipped
back to the United States, they are
considered imports.) China is currently
putting more emphasis on exports of
technical and industrial fabrics.
China's biggest imports from the
U.S. are commercial aircraft, soybeans
and autos. In 2018, China canceled
its soybean imports after President
Trump imposed tariffs on Chinese steel
exports and other goods.

58 REVIEW JUNE 2019

SUPPLY AND DEMAND
The economic decline, which has been taking place in China since 2013-2014, has already led
to decreased demand for industrial fabrics and technical textiles from some major domestic
markets, and has forced textile manufacturers to consider alternative markets and global sales.
For Chinese producers, the situation is also complicated by the fact that, so far, a significant
portion of domestic textile production has been heavily subsidized by the state, which has
sparked serious criticism from the United States and other Western countries about what is
perceived as unfair advantages provided to the Chinese technical textile industry, both in
domestic and global markets.
The cessation of trade wrangling between the U.S. and China, currently being discussed by
both sides, could result in a significant cut of further state subsidies to the Chinese technical
textile industry, and lead to a decline of profits for local and domestic manufacturers. For this
reason, many leading Chinese industrial fabrics producers are considering transferring at
least part of their sales to foreign markets. Implementation of these plans will be also part of
the state strategy in China to diversify the national economy through an increase of exports
of manufactured goods. In the case of technical textiles, part of the state plan begins with
exporting up to 25 percent of the annual domestic output.
EMERGING MARKETS
As part of these plans, particular emphasis will be devoted to increasing exports of fabrics used
in the production of medical textiles and products. Medical textiles are currently experiencing
the biggest demand in China's industry, and already account for a significant portion of the
country's textile exports to countries in Europe and the Americas.
The growth in production of medical textiles occurring in China in recent years was mainly
a result of the growing need for more effective sterilization, sanitation and protection against
bacteria in health care settings. There is an increasing use of medical textiles in biophysical
monitoring systems, patient tracking devices and other innovative applications in the Chinese
health care industry.
Exports of fabrics intended for use in the construction, civil engineering and architectural
industries will be also increased.
The United States is currently the largest market for industrial textiles manufactured in
China. In 2018, the export value amounted to US $3.74 billion, an increase of 7.09 percent



Specialty Fabrics Review June 2019

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