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From Farm To Fabric: The Many Faces Of Cotton - The 74th Plenary Meeting of the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC)
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From The Editor
James M. Borneman, Editor In Chief

What Is Your Future In Textiles?

James M. Borneman, Editor In Chief

W inning in today’s marketplace isn’t easy, and it is full of obstacles — but for many it is happening. Innovation in the way companies are managed, in understanding markets and in a company’s relationship to the global marketplace is making a difference. It is the future. “ Smaller,” “ leaner,”and “innovative” keep coming up as adjectives to describe the future of the US textile industry.

The nagging debate over China, the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and trade in general is a major distraction from building strategies that deal with the inevitable changes facing the US industry. While many wait for an outcome of trade issues, others insist this is a lingering process that will bump along until 2008, when it would appear all bets will be off and no safeguard process will be left to affect trade with China. Then the full impact of China on the US-CAFTA region will be felt. The focus quickly will shift to abolishing tariffs around the globe — the next trade battleground.

One North American manufacturer said recently that sooner or later business is going to be about leading companies competing and collaborating on a global scale — and not about the economic wrangling associated with trade fairness.

For some, true open markets are a scary thought; for others, wishful thinking; and still others say it can never happen because of discrepancies in wage, environment and currency issues. Regardless of who is right, winning companies are embracing the future and moving forward without fanfare.

At some point, the doom and gloom gets pretty old. It can’t be allowed to overshadow those who are engaged, moving forward and finding their way through challenging times. At the recent VESTEX show in Guatemala, the majority of US companies had positive things to say about their businesses and about the future — they were there, looking for business and looking for partners.

At ShanghaiTex, with seven buildings, 100,000 square meters of machinery and 35,000 attendees on the first day, machinery producers spoke of slowing Chinese investment in equipment. Three buildings of China-produced equipment drew interest as producers quietly spoke of Chinese machinery rivaling well-known global producers at “85 percent of the technology and 35 to 40 percent of the price.”

It is apparent the change afoot affects more than manufacturers — it is impacting the entire supply chain. One leading machinery manufacturer said he has been working in China for more than 25 years and his focus is, Where is the next China? Uzbekistan? Russia? India? For him, the next opportunity is the future.

By many accounts, the Techtextil show in Frankfurt was a great success, showing the dynamics of change that have flowed into the nonwovens and technical textiles marketplace.

As the world gets smaller, markets widen and competition increases, US competitiveness will continue to be challenged — fairly or unfairly. Understanding the marketplace, using marketing to lead product development, building brands and value that compete for global recognition — those who get it will win, and win for the long run.

July/August 2005