Wake Up, Western World

The annual ITMF conference in Shanghai is over. Some 300 people attended the congress, which was
held October 23-25. China as the host country was an excellent organizer, and the extraordinary
show on the opening evening was somewhat similar to the fantastic opening ceremony at the 2008
Olympic Games in Beijing. The papers presented were mostly high-quality and provoked some lively
discussions among conference attendees.

The hosting associations, with Minister Du Yuzhou at the head of the steering committee of
the China National Textile and Apparel Council (CNTAC), also organized a visit to China Textile
City, in Keqiao, Shaoxing County. The city of Keqiao is a three-hour drive from Shanghai. Visiting
China Textile City, one can see that the manufacturing balance is moving heavily toward China. And
the facts are mind-blowing: China Textile City is the largest textile professional market in Asia,
and the biggest trade center worldwide.

The trade center occupies an area of some 3.2 million square meters, has more than 20,000
business rooms and features 19,000 operators/companies. There are more than 3,500 overseas
permanent buyers and more than 700 permanent overseas representative agencies. Goods are sold to
187 countries and regions; a quarter of the global man-made fabrics are traded. It also has
business relations with nearly 50 percent of China’s national textile enterprises. China Textile
City has achieved an annual market turnover of more than 60 billion renminbi.

To a traveler between East and West, this trade center highlights the astonishing behavior of
some Western people. In some European countries, the working week comprises 35 to 36 hours, and
these employees go on strike if they are asked to be more competitive and increase their working
hours. A short working week was hailed by some political parties and unions as a great social
achievement. At first sight, it certainly is. On the other hand, competitiveness has declined and
companies are struggling, most of all in the textile industry.  Wake up, Western world – it’s
high noon.

October/November/December 2009