Photo: Textile import
The Dominican Republic’s textile industry, hampered in recent decades by Chinese competition, has begun growing again and may recover a leadership position thanks to Western companies’ declining enthusiasm for sourcing production in Asia, the CEO of Spanish garment technology company Jeanologia told Efe.
Now is the time for Latin American countries to leverage technology to reclaim leadership of the textile industry and become the “great workshop” for the United States, Enrique Silla said.
Silla’s company, which works with leading U.S. brands such as Polo Ralph Lauren, Levi’s, Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle and Calvin Klein, has branches in Mexico, India, Bangladesh, China and other countries.
The shift in industrial production away from Asia and back to the Western Hemisphere is mainly due to higher wages in China and the need to reduce shipping costs.
Companies also want to avoid the problem of poor working conditions at factories run by Asian suppliers.
Currently on a “prospective visit” to the Dominican Republic, Silla toured the facilities of a leading Central American clothing manufacturer - Grupo M - that has expressed interest in Jeanologia’s technology, which reproduces vintage and usage effects on garments without the use of water or chemical products.
Countries such as Mexico and the Dominican Republic, which enjoy geographical proximity to the U.S. market, are increasingly attracting productive investment that would have previously gone to China, some analysts say.
Dominican President Danilo Medina, for his part, said in his Feb. 27 state of the nation address that his country could benefit from the current global economic repositioning and become a leading destination for new foreign direct investment.
“A rapid industrial displacement is occurring from China to other countries. We either capitalize on it and ensure that the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Haiti and the other (regional) countries become the main workshop for the U.S., or we don’t and other countries like Vietnam, Cambodia and Bangladesh will,” Silla said.