Singapore A Textile Gateway

he Republic of Singapore — whose name means “Lion City” — is situated off the southern
tip of the Malay Peninsula in Southeast Asia and comprises Singapore Island and 60 islets. The
British established Singapore as a trading colony in 1819. It became a part of the Federation of
Malaysia in 1963, but it left the federation in 1965 to become an independent nation and now is
among the world’s most prosperous countries. It holds a strong position in international trade, and
its per capita gross domestic product is comparable to that of Western Europe’s leading nations.
One of the most densely populated countries globally, Singapore ranks fourth worldwide as a
financial center, according to the City of London’s Global Financial Centres Index 7.


Textile And Apparel Industry

Manufacturing, distribution and retail are the main activities within Singapore’s textile
and apparel industry. According to 2008 data from Singapore’s Department of Statistics, Economic
Development Board and SPRING Singapore — a government agency that implements programs to support
the country’s textile and apparel sector — the textile and apparel industry comprises 4,818
establishments, of which in that year 4,212 were wholesalers and retailers and 606 were
manufacturers. In 2008, sales totaled approximately US$6.9 billion and manufacturing output was
worth approximately US$700 million. In 2008, the industry employed 27,378 people. Singapore’s
textile and apparel manufacturers export their products primarily to the U.S. and European markets,
and are some of the largest suppliers to brands such as Nike and Gap and department stores such as

The Textile and Fashion Federation Singapore — established in 1981 through a coalition of
textile and apparel associations — with cooperation from International Enterprise Singapore and
SPRING Singapore, launched Apparel Singapore in July 2008 as a brand to represent a group of major
Singapore apparel manufacturers in their strategic and global marketing efforts. The brand
comprises member companies — also known as brand ambassadors, which include established, successful
Singapore-based apparel manufacturers that also operate production facilities in nearly 20
countries. Apparel Singapore promotes the capabilities, manufacturing services, offerings and
competitiveness of the country’s apparel manufacturers to the global market with the goal of
increasing the industry’s production.

“Not many people know that the largest suppliers for international brands like Nike, Macy’s
and GAP are actually apparel manufacturers based in Singapore,” said Lim Hng Kiang, minister for
trade and industry, in remarks made at the official launching ceremony of Apparel Singapore. “They
have been able to ride the wave of globalization by offering an integrated global sourcing solution
to established global retailers and buyers. Our [textile and apparel] companies have been able to
provide flexibility and customization of service offerings to these global customers by leveraging
on the cost-effective manufacturing locations in China, Southeast Asia and South Asia, and basing
their headquarter functions in Singapore.”

Sourcing Hub And Headquarters Site

Singapore ranks second in size after Hong Kong as a textile and apparel business and
sourcing hub in the Asia-Pacific region, with a total estimated sourcing volume through the country
of approximately SGD$2.5 billion to SGD$3 billion, according to SPRING Singapore. The Port of
Singapore is the largest port in Southeast Asia and currently the world’s busiest port in terms of
total shipping tonnage. It is a critical port for the many textile-manufacturing countries
surrounding it.

With its stable government and Western business practices, and because international brands
demand suppliers’ compliance with high standards, Singapore has become an attractive location for
textile distributors to set up headquarters activities. The World Bank Group’s Doing Business
Project, which evaluates business regulations and their enforcement across 183 economies and
selected cities worldwide, ranked Singapore number one in the overall “Ease of Doing Business”
category in its 2011 report.

This is the fifth year the country has led the rankings.A number of textile dye and chemical
suppliers have relocated their headquarters to the country. For example, in 2010, Switzerland-based
textile dyes and chemical supplier Clariant International Ltd. moved its Textile Chemicals Business
Unit headquarters from Reinach, Switzerland, to Singapore. “Singapore is the optimum location from
which to service the key global textile markets across India, China and South East Asia,” said
Thomas Winkler, head of Clariant’s Textile Chemicals Business Unit.

Huntsman Textile Effects — a manufacturer of chemicals and dyes for finished textiles and
materials, and a division of Huntsman Corp. — has relocated its headquarters from Basel,
Switzerland, to Singapore. In announcing the move in 2009, Huntsman Textile Effects President Paul
Hulme said: “Geographically, Singapore is an ideal location from which to serve the markets in
China, India and Southeast Asia, but also allows us to continue to serve and grow our business in
Europe and the Americas. Singapore was chosen from a number of possible locations, primarily
because of its proximity to our key growth markets, the excellent international business
environment encouraged by the Singapore Economic Development Board, and the availability of the
high quality professionals that will be critical to the continued growth of our global business.”

In 2008, Germany-based chemical company BASF SE made Singapore the headquarters for its
Performance Chemicals for Leather and Textiles global Business Unit; and in 2007, Wilmington,
Del.-based DuPont Imaging Technologies opened a technology center in Singapore to support its
DuPont™ Artistri™ digital printing system for textiles and to serve its customers in the Asia
Pacific region.

Machinery Shipments

Because Singapore is more of a gateway for the textile industry than a manufacturing base,
the country does not import much textile machinery. The 2008 and 2009 International Textile
Machinery Shipment Statistics reports of the Switzerland-based International Textile Manufacturers
Federation (ITMF) indicate that with the exception of a small number of circular knitting machines,
little textile machinery has been exported to Singapore by respondents to its machinery shipment

The German Engineering Federation (VDMA) Textile Machinery Association also reports that
Singapore is not a significant market for Germany’s textile machinery exports. Total machinery
exports to Singapore in 2009 were worth approximately 2.2 mililon euros; and in the first three
quarters of 2010, machinery exports were worth nearly 4 million euros.


The Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) — a research institute of
Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) — recently launched the
Nanotechnology in Manufacturing Initiative (NiMI) to explore new market opportunities in the global
nanotechnology market, which is projected to be worth more than US$2.4 trillion by 2015 and is
relevant to many textile applications. The initiative is supported by International Enterprise
Singapore, Singapore Economic Development Board and SPRING Singapore. Thirteen companies are
members of the initiative, including companies operating in the textile sector such as Pidilite
Innovation Centre, a provider of adhesives and sealants, textile chemicals, organic pigment powders
and industrial resins, among other products; Toray Industries Inc., a supplier of fibers and
textiles and carbon fiber composite materials, among other products; and 3M, a supplier of tapes
and adhesives, abrasives, flexible circuits, safety and security solutions, reflective film and
other products for industrial, commercial and consumer applications.

April/May/June 2011