China’s apparel exports down, as wages keep rising

According to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, China’s textile industry suffered decreasing exports and profits this year.

“Wages kept rising in the past few years. For example, in our factory, the workers now earn twice what they earned five years ago,” Li said.

“Overseas demand might rise when the economic situation improves. However, the decrease in the number of workers cannot stop. I can’t see any future for my factory in more than 10 years,” said Zhang.

“It is an irrevocable trend that low-end orders are moved to countries with lower labor costs such as those in Southeast Asia,” she said.

For instance, in the first eight months of 2012, Vietnam exported textile products worth $10.8 billion, up more than 6 percent compared with the same period last year, according to the Vietnam Textile & Apparel Association.

“China’s advantage on high quality cannot be beaten by these newly rising manufacturers in the short term. We have accumulated plenty of experience in the past three decades,” said Hu.

“Thanks to the export tax rebate, we are making some profit. We hope the tax policy remains stable,” she said.

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