Specialty Fabrics Review June 2019 - 59

over the past year. Japan was the second largest
market for textiles from China, but exports to
Japan have decreased by 3.12 percent during
the same period.
Some emerging regions are being
targeted by Chinese manufacturers and the
government-especially Africa, where the
presence of Chinese businesses, including
textile manufacturing, has significantly
increased in recent years. Of special interest
are parts of southeast Africa, particularly
Zambia and Tanzania, which are considered
potential sites for production facilities,
operated by Chinese capital.
CHALLENGES TO GROWTH
According to the latest data from the
Chinese Ministry of Finance, the domestic
production of industrial fabrics continues
to grow at an annual rate of 7-8 percent.
The industry currently employs about
60 million people, with the Guangdong
Province (the most populous province in
the country, located on the South China Sea
Coast) a center of production. In the case of
geotextiles, most of the Chinese production
is currently concentrated in the Lingcheng
district (located in Dezhou City, Shandong
Province), with more than 10 billion yuan of
main business income and 0.82 million tons
of geomaterials produced in 2018.
Additional pressure is being put on
Chinese manufacturing by the ever-tightening
ecological restrictions in China, which are
especially relevant for the technical textiles
sector. According to the Chinese Ministry of
Finance, the technical textiles industry is one
of the top five polluting industries in China,
and it regularly attracts increased attention
from local regulators. Leading Chinese textile
manufacturers are increasing investments
in environmentally friendly production
technologies to avoid government penalties
(or closures).
ACCELERATED R&D
In addition to efforts to expand the growth
of exports, the Chinese national government
is moving to facilitate the acceleration of
R&D activities in the industry. Unlike other
nations such as Russia, China has never had
a strong scientific investment in the field of
industrial fabrics and technical textiles; most

of its developments in this field were copies
of some Western products.
According to an official spokesman of
Liu Kun, China's Minister of Finance, that
siutation could change soon. Reportedly,
despite the ongoing stagnation of the Chinese
national economy, there is a high interest
from local producers for the establishment
and expansion of R&D activities in the field of
textile innovation. Liu Kun says, "In an era of
economic turbulence, only those enterprises
that are focused on the implementation of
advanced ideas and technologies could survive."
One area of commercial interest is in
multiaxial technical fabrics (textiles used as a
basis for composite materials), which remains
probably one of the most promising segments
of the Chinese textile market, attracting interest
from from both local investors and producers.
The Chinese Ministry of Industry and
Information Technology estimates the current
demand for multiaxial fabrics in China is
about 400,000 tons per year, with an annual
growth rate from 20 to 25 percent. Further
research will focus on fire-resistant and other
safety fabrics; the volume of investments from
Chinese business in this area already exceeds
US $150 million.
In a recent report, the Italian Trade
Commission estimates that there are
approximately 2,500 technical textiles
companies in China, with a ratio of domestic
to foreign companies of 4:1. An internal push
for textile exports is likely to have a significant
impact on global trade in this industry.

IN THE CASE OF
TECHNICAL TEXTILES,
PART OF THE STATE
PLAN BEGINS WITH
EXPORTING UP
TO 25 PERCENT
OF THE ANNUAL
DOMESTIC OUTPUT.

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Eugene Gerden is an international freelance
writer based in St. Petersburg, Russia.

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Specialty Fabrics Review June 2019

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