Bright prospects for East China's textile companies in Central Asia
As the international market becomes increasingly complex, a number of textile and garment export companies in East China are trying to spread the risk by exploring diversified markets.
Compared with the Southeast Asian, Latin American and African markets that many companies are competing for, people pay little attention to the Central Asian market. However, it is home to a wealth of untapped potential.
Covering an area of over 4 million square kilometers, the five countries of Central Asia -- Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan -- have been working to promote the development of the textile industry in recent years.
President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of the Republic of Uzbekistan signed a decree earlier this year to encourage exports in the industry. The country now plans to build itself into an export powerhouse through reform and a focus on exporting.
Statistics from the Kyrgyzstan Light Industry Association also showed that, in 2016, Kyrgyzstan's garment production increased sharply compared to between 2013 and 2015.
Even so, East China still has an absolute advantage over the five countries of Central Asia in the deep processing of textiles and garments.
Firstly, its enterprises are generally located in China's economically developed regions and the rapid economic development environment has given enterprises an innate ability to respond quickly to market demand, which is extremely useful for capturing overseas markets.
Secondly, in general, East China enterprises have strong brand awareness and attempt to stay in line with international standards on product development and design. Many of them have extensive experience with European, American and Japanese markets, which can help them explore the market demand for textile products in Central Asia and occupy the market.
Moreover, with the rapid development of the internet, the textile and garment industry in East China has begun to adopt big data technology. Cross-border e-commerce and new modes of foreign trade are also springing up, helping to carry high-quality textile products to Central Asian countries.
The opening of international railway lines has further facilitated the expansion of the Central Asian market for East China's textile and garment enterprises.
In July 2017, the Suzhou (Changshu)-Central Asia freight train departed from the Suzhou West Railway Station, the first international railway line to connect to Changshu.
The first train was made up of 86 standard containers with clothing, clothing accessories, fabrics and small commodities, amounting to a total value of $3.92 million. The goods were mostly from the local market, factories and surrounding areas of Changshu.
Four cities in Jiangsu province -- Lianyungang, Nanjing, Suzhou and Xuzhou -- own seven trade railway lines to Central Asia.
From January to July in 2018, Jiangsu province approved 365 trains to Central Asia, including 268 from Lianyungang (mainly destined for Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan), 41 from Nanjing (to Kazakhstan), 20 from Suzhou (to Kazakhstan) and 36 from Xuzhou (to Uzbekistan).
In Shandong province, the "Qingdao" Central Asia freight train was launched on July 1, 2015. Starting from Jiaozhou Station of China Railway Jinan Group Co, the train headed for Central Asian countries including Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
Shandong province witnessed its first "point-to-point" general freight train when the Central Asian Express Train (Weihai Port-Uzbekistan) departed from Weihai port with 43 containers on Aug 31, 2018.
The consumption and circulation of international textiles and garments has undergone substantial changes. With the development of emerging markets, some East China enterprises are eyeing the Central Asian market, hoping to use trains for logistics and internet as communicative platform.