Vietnamese and Thai delegates speaking Wednesday in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam called for closer cooperation of the countries’ garment and textile industries that would strengthen their mutual competitiveness.
Both sides are members of the 10-country-strong Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and stepping up support for each other could help their industries become successful on a global scale, they said.
As production costs continue to rise in China, many garment and textile manufacturers are moving to Vietnam, which has the added bonus of being a part of the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a duty-free agreement with the U.S., as well as a number of other free-trade treaties that would increase its edge in the global garment and textile market.
Yet while the country has emerged as a manufacturing hub of late, it’s had to import up to 85 percent of materials required for production. Furthermore, Thailand, which has an entire supply chain in place from yarn manufacturing to apparel production, is not included in the TPP.
Representatives are encouraging Thai businesses to produce fabric and materials in Vietnam to reap the benefits brought by free-trade agreements. In addition, the cooperation of the two sides could help better exploit the ASEAN market of 600 million people when the ASEAN Community Agreement comes into play by the year’s end.
As Phasiree Orawattanasrikul, vice chairwoman of Thai Garment Manufacturer’s Association (TGMA) Trade and Investment sub-committee, put it, “Establishing a fully, vertically integrated supply chain between Thailand and Vietnam is one of the big steps toward granting and sustaining our competitiveness.”