The Rupp Report: Astonishing Investment Climate In The U.S.
Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor
However, people, even so-called experts in the textile industry, often moan that today, it is not possible any more to be successful in any textile market when there is such strong competition from Asian markets in general, and the Chinese in particular. Of course, this misconception also applies in the United States. Well, here is another story from the U.S — and it is a successful textile industry story:
Like every business sector, the U.S. textile industry is well organized. The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), based in Washington, with an office in Gastonia, N.C., represents the entire textile sector. The organization states it is domestically focused to ensure a prosperous future for the U.S. textile sector, and globally positioned to work effectively with its international allies.
According to NCTO, in 2012, the overall U.S. textile sector, ranging from fiber to apparel, directly employed 499,000 workers — including 235,000 in textile companies alone — and indirectly supported one million U.S. jobs.
One thing is astonishing, if one recalls the troubled economic situation in the years since the big financial crash in 2008: NCTO says that U.S. textile companies have built 23 new plants and invested more than US$3 billion in new plant and equipment over the last three years. These are very impressive figures. New facilities include fiber and yarn manufacturing plants as well as recycling plants to convert textile waste for new textile applications.
In 2012, U.S. textile shipments were worth more than US$53 billion. Textile product exports, valued at more than US$17 billion in 2012, have grown by 36 percent, or more than US$4 billion, since 2009. Net textile and apparel exports totaled US$23 billion in 2012. With these figures, it is no wonder that the U.S. textile industry ranks third globally as an exporter of textile products.
Two-thirds of U.S. textile exports were shipped to Western Hemisphere free trade partners during 2012. The U.S. textile industry exported goods to more than 170 countries, including 24 countries that received goods worth more than US$100 million.
The army is in many countries of the world a strong purchasing power, and not only for rifles and ammunition, but also for textiles. Many new developments, especially for protective garments and high-performance fibers and fabrics, were targeted to military purposes. This is also the case for the U.S.: NCTO says that the U.S. textile industry supplies more than 8,000 different textile products per year to the U.S. military. In addition, the U.S. is among the global leaders in textile research and development. New textile materials being developed by private textile companies and universities include conductive fabric with antistatic properties, electronic textiles that monitor heart rate and vital signs, antimicrobial fibers, antiballistic armor for both personnel and vehicles, and temperature-regulating garments that adapt to the climate. These are just a few examples how creative the U.S. textile industry still is.
In spite of all the troubles of the textile industry in the West, the U.S. textile industry can present some astonishing facts and figures over the last 10 years: According to statistics provided by NCTO, U.S. textile industry productivity has increased by 45 percent over the last decade, and the industry is among the top three in productivity increases. And to dispel another fairy tale about wages in textiles: In 2012, earnings for textile workers averaged 135 percent more than apparel store workers, and they also received health care and pension benefits.
A troublesome economic situation is one thing. There are two ways to get out of it: either accept it or fight against it. Imagination and experience have always been a splendid munition for success. In textiles, they have brought an astonishing investment climate into the U.S.
May 14, 2013