Analysis of the “14th Five-Year Plan” Development of the Chemical Fiber Industry


In order to carry out a comprehensive development plan of the “14th Five-Year Plan”, China Chemical Fibers Association organized a questionnaire survey focusing on the key areas of industry development and hot spots and received positive feedback from enterprises. The survey received a total of 117 valid questionnaires. The total production capacity of the sample enterprises accounted for more than 70% of the total industry scale, and the enterprise scale and industry distribution also basically reached full coverage.

I. Review of the “13th Five-Year Plan” Period (2016-2020)

1. On aggregate development and structural adjustment

According to preliminary estimates, the average annual growth rate of the output of the chemical fiber industry remains at 5.3% from 2015 to 2019. While the industrial insiders from polyester fiber, cellulose fiber and acrylic fiber industries worried that there was obvious excess capacity in this industry.

From the perspective of investment in fixed assets, the surveyed companies invested more for technological transformation, reaching 38.46% of the total, followed by capacity expansion, accounting for 29.91%. And the investment ratios of new materials, and upstream and downstream industry chain expansion were 17.95% and 13.68%, respectively. The focus on technological transformation and capacity expansion will inevitably lead to fierce competition, especially in product quality and price.

2. The scientific and technological progress is the highlight

Industrial insider reckoned that scientific and technological progress is the salient feature of the chemical fiber industry during the “13th Five-Year Plan” period. It is worth mentioning that 74.36% of the surveyed enterprises increased their capital investment in brand management, marketing and exhibitions. 3. Increasing impact of labor costs, environmental protection and raw material costs on business costs According to the feedback from the questionnaire, the main factors that led to the increase in operating costs of the enterprise during the “13th Five-Year Plan” period were ranked according to importance as labor costs (87.18%), environmental protection costs (71.79%), and raw material costs (42.74%). Although labor costs do not account for a large proportion in the production of chemical fiber, the shortage of labor has brought a lot of pressure to the company, requiring the enterprises to pay extra for the stability of its employees. Therefore, “machine substitution” has become an inevitable choice for the manufacturing industry to reduce costs, improve efficiency, and optimize and upgrade. In addition, the continuous improvement of environmental protection standards has also forced companies to increase investment in environmental protection. In the cost structure of chemical fiber companies, the cost of raw materials accounts for a relatively high proportion, which is easily affected by fluctuations in crude oil prices at the source of the industrial chain. With the development of refining-chemical integration, the impact of raw material fluctuations on the chemical textile industry will gradually decrease, and the industry operation will also stabilize.

II. Industry Development Prospects for “14th Five-Year Plan” Period (2021-2025)

1. Meet the demand and maintain a reasonable range of scale development

In retrospect of the past two decades, the global textile fiber processing volume has maintained an average annual growth rate of 3%, while that of China has been growing faster than the world. With population growth, economic development and increase of per capita fiber consumption, the global fiber processing volume will continue to grow, and the majority of the increase will be contributed by chemical fibers.

2. Focus on the competitive landscape and corporate development model

Regarding the biggest challenges facing the industry in the next few years, 42.74% of the surveyed companies believed that internal competition in the industry will be the biggest challenge, and the impact of the macroeconomic environment accounted for 35.9%. Companies’ judgments on the competition pattern are scattered, of which 31.62% reckoned that science and technology will leverage a central role, 27.35% and 24.79% were polarized and integrated, and 16.24% was the niche market, which showed that the competition pattern is diverse, and price competition was no longer the only manifestation.

In the next decade to score, China’s private enterprises will enter a peak period of “handover shift”. From the information collected in this survey, more than 50% of the chemical fiber enterprises have already or will soon face the situation of second-generation succession, and a few companies (6.84%) have completed the second-generation transfer. The total production capacity of China’s private chemical fiber enterprises accounts for about 80% of the total. Whether or not private chemical fiber enterprises can successfully take over by the second-generation is related to the sustainable development of China’s chemical fiber industry and the transformation of development methods.

3. Technological innovation is the core driver, and talent is the first resource

Companies’ opinions on the key directions of technological advancement in the industry were scattered. Among them, functional products and intelligent manufacturing accounted for 29.06% and 27.35% respectively, and green manufacturing accounted for 23.93%. On the other side, they also reflected that the above areas are the key directions for technological progress.

According to the survey content, 86.32% of surveyed companies believed that the biggest difficulties in the transformation and upgrading of enterprises are talents and key technologies. Regarding the demand judgment of enterprises' scarce talents, 61.54% of the surveyed enterprises chose compound talents, which was far higher than the options of technical and management talents. In addition, among the choices of the areas that need to be improved most in the transformation of scientific and technological innovation achievements of enterprises, 61.54% of surveyed enterprises chose entrepreneurs and leaders, followed by industry-university-research collaboration (55.56%). Therefore, in the future, enterprises require a group of talents who understand technology, not just in this field but across industry chains, and who understand the key issues for market development.

4. Green development has become the core concern of industry and enterprises

Green development and environmental protection have become the consensus of human society, and sustainable development is vital to the operation of enterprises. Combined with relevant survey contents, 74.36% of the companies considered it necessary to set up specialized environmental protection and sustainable development department. In particular, all viscose companies that participated in the survey chose to set up a special department. In addition, in combination with the previous survey questions, it will also be found that the increase in environmental protection costs during the “13th Five-Year Plan” period has become an important factor in the increase in business operating costs. According to this survey, the problem of plastic particles has caused widespread concern in the industry, and it is believed that it will have a subsequent impact on the chemical fiber industry. The development of recycling and bio-based materials with natural renewable and biodegradable raw materials is one of the effective ways, and degradable chemical fiber is becoming a proposition that can affect the future destiny of the global fiber industry.

However, the replacement process does not happen overnight, and the raw material structure dominated by petroleum resources is difficult to change in the short term. At present, the development of bio-based chemical fiber in China is still in its infancy, and there are still some problems. For example, the key monomers and raw materials have not been resolved; the supply system is not perfect; the key technologies and equipment still have gaps with the advanced level; the cost of petroleum-based fibers is relatively high. In the short term, bio-based fibers can't have explosive growth and replace petroleum-based fibers on a large scale. However, the issue of a large amount of disposable protective equipment caused by this pandemic may soon attract attention, which may bring opportunities to related degradable fibers.

5.Prediction of the international and domestic industrial layout trends

Regarding the export trend of chemical fiber products for the “14th Five-Year Plan” period, surveyed enterprises generally maintain an optimistic view. Only 11.11% of enterprises believed that the growth rate of exports will decrease. For the transfer trend of China’s chemical fiber production capacity to the countries along the “Belt and Road” Initiative and other overseas markets, 64.96% of the companies reckoned that the transfer will accelerate, 16.24% believed that it will not change, and 18.8% of enterprises thought it will slow down.