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

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years 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.
Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriagei
X
May 21, 2015 4:14 AM
The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.
Video

Video Women to March for Peace Between Koreas

Prominent female activists from around the world plan to march through the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea to call for peace between the two neighbors, divided for more than 60 years. The event, taking place May 24, marks the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament and has been approved by both Koreas. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan Following Record High Poppy Crops

Afghanistan has seen record high poppy crops during the last few years - and the result has been an alarming rise in illegal drug use and addiction in the war-torn country. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem has this report from Kabul.
Video

Video America’s Front Lawn Gets Overhaul

America’s front yard is getting a much-needed overhaul. Almost two kilometers of lawn stretch from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument. But the expanse of grass known as the National Mall has taken a beating over the years. Now workers are in the middle of restoring the lush, green carpet that fronts some of Washington’s best-known sights. VOA’s Steve Baragona took a look.

VOA Blogs