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Published: November 2013
Textile manufacturing is one of the world's oldest and most mature industries. Worldwide, textile production and consumption have followed a long-term growth rate of about 2–3% per year, the recent economic recession notwithstanding. The most significant growth has occurred in the developing countries and that pattern is likely to continue in the foreseeable future. In the past thirty years, there has been a continued shift in the geographic location of the world's textile production, first to the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia and Thailand in the 1980s, and second to China and India after 1995, and away from the traditional production centers of the United States, Western Europe and Japan. The textile industry in the developed countries has focused its activities on improving market control by branding and retailing, speeding up fashion changes, and delocalizing production. Production will remain more in high-end apparel, carpet and technical textiles.
In East Asia—particularly in China, Thailand, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong—textile production increased dramatically during 1980–1995. China's presence became overwhelming after 1995. The Republic of Korea, Taiwan and Thailand became major suppliers of synthetic fibers (and fabrics of synthetic fibers) to China.
Textile chemical products range from highly specialized chemicals (biocides, flame retardants, water repellents and warp sizes, for example) to relatively simple commodity chemicals or mixtures thereof (such as emulsified oils and greases, starch, sulfonated oils, waxes and some surfactants). Several thousand textile chemical specialties are sold, many of them quite similar and differing from one supplier to another merely in trade names and prices. Altogether, over sixty distinct functional chemical product classes are used in yarn formation, fabric pretreatment and finishing, textile laminating and coating, and other miscellaneous applications.
The following pie chart shows world consumption of textile chemicals:
China has become the largest market for textile chemicals, based on ever-growing apparel and textile production and on huge production of synthetic fibers and cotton. It remains to be seen, however, how long the textile boom in China is going to last at its current pace. The Chinese textile industry might experience rising production costs and will suffer from severe environmental protection measures. Like China, India has become a fast growing market for textile chemicals, reflecting strong cotton and synthetic fiber production as well as growing domestic demand and increasing exports.
China and India will increase their consumption of textile chemicals during 2012–2017, from 50% to 53% of world consumption, while Europe and the Middle East/Africa, the Americas and East Asia will lose share during that period, from 50% to 47%. Thus, the geographical shifts in the textile industry in the various regions of the world will have a significant impact on the consumption of textile chemicals in the foreseeable future.
As a result of the relocation of fiber and textile production to Asia, U.S., European and Japanese textile chemical companies are consolidating their activities in their home markets and continue to expand significantly into Asia, particularly China and India. They are growing their apparel and home textile chemicals business in Asia by opening new regional technical and distribution centers and are increasing local production capacities. Currently, Asia accounts for 30–40% of the textile chemical sales of the major European textile chemical producers.
The textile chemical industry is developing new textiles with smart functions that include high-performance and protection materials, using nano- and biotechnology know-how, specialty coating and lamination formulas, as well as ink-jet printing processes. New products are found in industrial and medical textiles, in geo- and agrotextiles, in construction and interior textiles as well as in wearable electronics. Clothing is specially treated to give it unique selling points such as wrinkle-resistance, stain-resistance, antimicrobial properties, and a soft finish to provide extra comfort and performance. Trends in the textile and apparel industry include the development of products that provide comfort, wellness, freshness and care. The greater use of leisure and sportswear is promoting the use of antimicrobial finishes in order to prevent odor problems generated by bacteria in perspiration trapped in clothing, socks, underwear and T-shirts. Microencapsulation technologies contain moisturizers, deodorants and repellents that release their active ingredients by gentle rubbing, not during multiple washing.
Global consumption of textile chemicals is forecast to increase at an average annual rate of 1–3% during 2012–2017. The highest growth rates will be in countries like China, India and Turkey, ranging from 3% to 6%, with declines of 1–6% in regions such as Western Europe, the Middle East/Africa, the Republic of Korea and Taiwan.
This report covers the worldwide textile chemical industry, including detailed discussion of the worldwide textile industry.