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Technical textile production gathering pace in China

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While traditional textile sectors have encountered an increasingly challenging business environment in China in recent years, in face of slowing demand and surging costs, technical textile firms have tended to increase investment in capacity, lured by the prospect of attractive profit margins.

During 2013, fixed asset investment in the sector totalled 44.88 billion yuan (about US$7.36 billion), 28.67% higher than a year earlier. That growth rate compared favourably with the figure for the textile industry as a whole of 17.29%.

At present, technical fabric is still a niche category in China’s textile industry, with an output of 3.84 million tonnes during 2013. However, as the world’s largest consumer and producer of technical textiles, China is expanding its manufacturing capacity aggressively. During the past five years, the domestic technical textile industry has maintained double-digit growth in sales revenue. Buyers have increasingly turned to fledgling manufacturing bases in China, located primarily in Zhejiang, Shandong, Jiangsu and Guangdong provinces, for their sourcing requirements. It is worth noting that Hubei province is emerging as another important producer of technical textiles, but mainly of finished goods, further down the supply chain from fabric.

Industrialization and urbanization are the main factors driving growth in China’s production of technical textiles. Increased demand from local automotive manufacturers, construction firms and medical institutes has provided a significant boost in the nonwovens sector.

Xialv, a small town (by Chinese standards) in Zhejiang province, has been the country’s number one nonwoven manufacturing base in recent years, posting an annual sales revenue of 1.31 billion yuan (US$215 million) during 2012. The local government has hosted an influential technical textile forum in 2012 and 2013. Xialv also benefits from a ready supply of raw materials, with Zhejiang province being China’s main production hub for man-made fibres.

Nonwoven fabric producers in Guangdong province enjoy a reputation for supplying high-end products for automobile manufacturers, such as Toyota, Honda, and Nissan.

Funing County in Jiangsu province has emerged as the main manufacturing hub of filtration materials for construction and environmental protection.

Xiantao, a city in a poorer region of Hubei province, has developed to become the major supplier of medical products, producing around 25% of surgical masks and gowns worldwide.


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