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The Rupp Report
Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor

The Winds Of Change

By Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor

Not only because of cheap labor, but also for environmental reasons, many production sites in the Western World, particularly in Western Europe, have closed. To attain standards set by the environmental laws was simply too expensive for many companies. Apart from the well-known reasons — such as cheap labour costs — poor environmental laws or simply non-existing pollution control are reasons China was able to start its fast race to the economic top of the world. And China’s pace increased even more after its accession to the World Trade Organization. However, economic success often is intermingled with ecological problems. Organizations in the Western Hemisphere have severely criticized China for this reason. Since last year, China’s strategy has changed dramatically.

In June 2006, the China National Development and Reform Commission and the China National Textile & Apparel Council held a conference to discuss the development of its textile and apparel industry.

In a vision for the 11th Five-Year plan from 2006 to 2010, ambitious targets for the textile and apparel industry were set, including the following:
• In 2010, China’s national textile and apparel industry will substantially increase its self-innovating capacity and develop intellectual properties;
• The industrial structure will be further developed with a considerable improvement of the overall level of technological equipment; and
• Low-level primary processing capacities with low-efficiency, high-energy consumption and heavy pollution will be restricted or reduced to achieve a substantial improvement in energy consumption and environmental preservation.

The following sectors of the textile and apparel industry were specifically named:
• cotton spinning and weaving;
• wool spinning;
• linen spinning and weaving;
• man-made fibers;
• apparel;
• industrial textile products;
• household textiles;
• printing;
• knitting; and
• silk.

Of course, textile machinery also was prominently mentioned. The ambitious plan calls for the drive to raise the level of the whole industry. In the dyeing sector, the target is to phase out equipment and dyeing factories that do not comply with the standards for anti-pollution measures. Some factories have already been closed down.

Finishing is more than ever playing an important role in the global textile industry for many different reasons. Textile machinery manufacturers are challenged to meet not only the increasing environment-related requirements, but also flexibility and low maintenance needs. The forthcoming ITMA 2007 in Munich, Germany, will show if these manufacturers have done their homework.

June 5, 2007