TTX-Blog_Textilmarkt

Technical textiles: Quo vadis?

Nearly no sign of any downturn in textile textiles. To coincide with Techtextil the German international trade service ‘Trade & Invest (GTAI) published an independent study with the title “German high-tech textiles conquer the global market.” It says what we almost already knew: in 2013 Germany still remains global market leader in the field of technical textiles. What is new however is that over the next few years sales outside Europe will increase significantly in part, particularly in growth countries such as Brazil or India.

Much has happened since the 1960s when German companies signalled a sea-change in their move towards technical textiles. Now technical textiles represent 50 percent of the total textile-based turnover. In times of crisis in particular export has proven itself to be the saving grace. Today the manufacturers of textiles generate around 43 percent of sales overseas – four times as much as in 1970. In terms of exports the German textile and apparel industry is globally in third place behind China and Italy. However, last year exports into the EU declined by five percent – ‘thanks be’ to the debt crisis. The textile industries in Greece and Cyprus have almost disappeared entirely, while Italy, Belgium and Spain have other concerns at present resulting in a significant collapse in trade quotas.

BRIC is getting big

3D spacer fabric – ideal buffer material for a range of different applications (source: M. Richter/Messe Frankfurt)

3D spacer fabric – ideal buffer material for a range of different applications (source: M. Richter/Messe Frankfurt)

Bye-bye Europe? Not in the least, since around 70 percent of all the textiles and apparel is still exported into the 27 countries of the EU, the remainder goes to countries outside the EU. However, Brazil, Russia, India and China are becoming increasingly textile-hungry centres of trade in otherwise saturated markets. So is it time to learn Portuguese, Russian and Mandarin or to practice how you say hello in India? It would not be a bad idea with exports increasing by 12 percent in these so-called BRIC states and (still) excellent economic prospects. In these countries an increasing number of companies and institutes are establishing distribution companies at present and are either cooperating with local universities or have the intention of doing so. Debt crisis or not, thanks to stable exports the technical textile industry has not let its mood be darkened.

Unfortunately, the current economic report of the ‘Gesamtverband textil+mode’ (Confederation of the German textile and fashion industry) cannot confirm this positive impression. In April there had been a double digit increase in the technical textile and non-woven segments, but in May, the confederation again witnessed a sharp fall in sales and production. Industry mood has also darkened a little overall. However the GTAI and the Confederation of the German textile and fashion industry agree: expanding industries such as the car, metal or construction industries are desperately seeking to innovate and in doing so are turning increasingly often to the field of textiles. Indeed, cooperation with 16 textile research institutes sees the textile industry launch a new product almost every month.

Fabrics for solid / liquid filtration e.g. filters for waste water/ paper machines are becoming more popular (Source: Nextrusion GmbH /Messe Frankfurt).

Fabrics for solid / liquid filtration e.g. filters for waste water/ paper machines are becoming more popular (Source: Nextrusion GmbH /Messe Frankfurt).

Anyone who wants to learn more is urged to read the study. Besides this the GTAI also writes regularly about other (textile) markets. For example the Textile industry in the Russian Federation is currently keeping pace only in the segment of technical textiles, a growing market for this huge country. At the same time there is a decline in the sales of chemical fibres produced in China in spite of exports being predicted to continue to increase by up to 15 percent this year. In addition the government is investing ambitiously for example in new nylon factories for the production of – wait for it – technical textiles.

www.gtai.de (German only)

Source: Miracle material carbon fibre – essential for developments in lightweight construction for aviation, automotive and sports / leisure. (Source: SGL Kümpers/Messe Frankfurt)

Marc Chalupsky

Marc Chalupsky

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