News / Asia

With an Eye on TPP, Garment Companies Flock to Vietnam

Exhibitors examine their company's yarn display at Saigon Tex, a garment and textile expo.
Exhibitors examine their company's yarn display at Saigon Tex, a garment and textile expo.
As China and its workers get wealthier, global manufacturers are looking south for less expensive places to do business. But Cambodia faces labor strikes. The Thai government suffers endless protests. Burma, also known as Myanmar, needs infrastructure updates. As a result, many companies are setting their sights on Vietnam.

Hundreds of them, in fact, descended on Ho Chi Minh City this weekend for Saigon Tex, a garment and textile expo. Sharing a border with China, Vietnam boasts geographic convenience, as well as political stability and low costs. Those attract companies like Spain-based Jeanologia, which showed off its laser-on-denim technology at the expo.

“It is becoming such an important hub for American and European brands,” Jeanologia area manager Borja Trenor Casanova said of Vietnam.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) helps, too. As one of 12 countries negotiating the trade pact, Vietnam stands to benefit most from a clause that would cut tariffs on textiles and apparel, which are among the nation’s top exports.

To take advantage of the tax reduction, foreign companies are shifting their factories to Vietnam. Nguyen Thi Cam Tu is general manager at Thach Anh Vang, which represents manufacturers from Germany, Turkey, the United States, and others. She said the TPP is part of the reason her company saw a 50 percent increase in annual turnover in 2013,

“I see a lot of investment going on, because we see quite a lot of inquiries recently,” Cam Tu said, as a giant yarn spinner roared at the vendor slot next to hers at the expo.

The growth is reflected across the country. Textile exports increased 20 percent in the first quarter of 2014, compared with the same period last year, according to the General Statistics Office.

While production and revenues have risen steadily, Vietnamese companies and officials recognize a gaping weakness in the garment industry: It buys most of its materials from other countries. The Vice Minister of Industry and Trade Ho Thi Kim Thoa told an audience at the expo that Vietnam must set targets to produce more fabrics on its own.

“These targets demonstrate an urgent need for technological innovation, improvement of quality control, labor management, environmental management, as well as improvement in the textile and garment supply chain in accordance with international standards,” Kim Thoa said.

If it doesn’t develop more local suppliers, Vietnam won’t be able to tap the full potential of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The agreement is likely to include a yarn-forward rule, which requires Vietnam to make clothes with materials from TPP member countries in order to receive tax-free import benefits.

But people are looking to improve the garment sector in other ways, too. Casanova said Jeanologia’s laser-printing is one of the technologies that could help Vietnam become a value-adding step in the production chain. The country, which achieved lower middle income status in 2010, is still very dependent on cheap labor. But to avoid the middle-income trap, it needs to find ways to add value to its exports. Casanova said it seems to want technology for that purpose, as well as to promote environmental sustainability in business.

 “Vietnam is showing interest in a change in the industry,” he said.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs