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Winter blues for China's textile industry

By Yan Yiqi and Zhang Jianming  (China Daily)

07:55, October 29, 2012

A view of East Market of China Textile City in Shaoxing county, Zhejiang province. Shaoxing's booming textile industry has faced many hurdles in its efforts to expand. [Photo/China Daily]

For Huang Yan this should be the busiest time of the year, when many Chinese companies are usually inundated with Christmas orders from overseas. But one afternoon early this month, Huang said she had not received a single sales inquiry all day. The newspapers on her desk have been read twice over and having forgotten to put a book in her bag before leaving home, she hopes she can find some unread dregs on a third reading.

The saleswoman next door is chatting with another one across the hall, and one of the main topics, apart from children and husbands, is how rotten business is at the moment.

Huang is a sales assistant at Zhejiang Weizi Textile, which owns two stores in the East Market of China Textile City, the country's largest market for textile products in Shaoxing county, Zhejiang province.

Trade has been this slow for several months, she said, and for small factories like the one she works for the problem is acute.

"It should still be Western customers' Christmas buying season, but you can see exactly what it's like."

This one corner of China's largest textile market covering an area of 3.2 million square meters is a microcosm of the business climate in Shaoxing.

Shaoxing hosts the densest concentration of textile businesses in the country, with more than 1,000 large-scale textile companies generating a total annual turnover of 153.8 billion yuan ($25 billion). Textiles account for 64.5 percent of production in Shaoxing, said He Jiashun, the county's Party chief.

"Shaoxing's economy is bound by a piece of cloth. A quarter of the world's textile product trading in terms of quantity is done through China Textile City here."

But He said Shaoxing's booming textile industry has faced many hurdles in its efforts to expand.

In the first three quarters of this year China Textile City's sales revenue was 59.3 billion yuan, up 7.5 percent year-on-year. Revenue has grown an average of 10 percent in recent years, said Shou Lumin, deputy director of the Construction and Management Committee of China Textile City. China Textile City's average monthly exports in the first nine months of the year were $255 million, an increase of 7.6 percent year-on-year.

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