Global Textile Industry

Instructor: Greg Hanichak

Greg has a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Scranton and is an operations manager with a leading logistics provider.

The global textile industry includes textile production, refinement, and retail garment sales. Let's take a look at the current state of the industry, its key players, and projections for the future.

Overview of the Global Textile Industry

The global textile industry impacts nearly every human being on the planet. The industry is currently worth nearly US $3 trillion and includes the production, refinement, and sale of both synthetic and natural fibers used in thousands of industries. The global textile market is broken into a number of sectors shown in the chart below.

Textile Market Segments

As you can see, the textile industry encompasses a broad and diverse range of products with an even wider range of applications. That diversity is one of many factors that makes the textile industry one of the most vital to the economic well-being of people all over the world.

Economic Impact

It is estimated anywhere between 20 million and 60 million people are employed in the textile industry worldwide. Employment in the garment industry is particularly important in developing economies such as India, Pakistan, and Vietnam. The industry accounts for approximately 2% of global Gross Domestic Product and accounts for an even greater portion of GDP for the world's leading producers and exporters of textiles and garments.

Global Textile Market

China is the world's leading producer and exporter of both raw textiles and garments. The United States is the leading producer and exporter of raw cotton, while also taking the prize for the top importer of raw textiles and garments. The chart below shows the global import and export market shares of the top 7 countries in each category.

Textile Market

There are many developing countries ready to crack or climb this list in the near future as their investment into the textile or garment industry increases. Countries such as Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Samoa, and a number of South American countries have seen considerable growth in their textile markets in recent years. As China moves towards a service-based economy, and labor prices continue to rise, it is logical to assume many garment producers will move away from China and into developing markets where labor is cheap and readily available.

Labor Issues

The textile industry has a unique set of issues and challenges to overcome as globalization and modernization take hold in developing economies. One issue that has been present in the garment industry for decades is labor exploitation. The average hourly wage for a garment worker in Bangladesh is 24 cents, and most workers are not offered any leave, holidays, or other benefits such as health care. Garment workers are often subjected to substandard working conditions and forced to work extremely long hours all year long to simply earn enough to survive.

According to an article published by War on Want ,an independent watchdog group, ''As well as earning a pittance, Bangladeshi factory workers face appalling conditions. Many are forced to work 14-16 hours a day seven days a week, with some workers finishing at 3 am only to start again the same morning at 7:30 am. On top of this, workers face unsafe, cramped and hazardous conditions which often lead to work injuries and factory fires. Since 1990, more than 400 workers have died, and several thousand more have been wounded in 50 major factory fires. Sexual harassment and discrimination is widespread, and many women workers have reported that the right to maternity leave is not upheld by employers. Factory management also take steps to prevent the formation of trade unions, a right protected under the Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining ILO Conventions, which Bangladesh ratified in 1972.''

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