Economic Development of China's Textile Industry and Its Focus During the "14th Five-year Plan" Period


2020 is the end of building a moderately prosperous society and the 13th "Five-year Plan period" of China. The textile industry has experienced ups and downs, withstanding the test of the complex and severe international situation. China's textile industry has made every effort to guarantee the supply of important pandemic prevention materials, steadily promoted the resumption of work and production, and support the building of a textile power. In 2021, the new development cycle of the "14th Five-year Plan" has begun. The complexity and severity of the international situation remain unabated. The textile industry is in a stage of in-depth adjustment and transformation and actively respond to various risks and challenges, so as to maintain stable and healthy development, and better serve the new strategic requirements of national economic and social development.

I. Overview of the Economic Operation of the Textile Industry in 2020

According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics, from January to November 2020, the industrial added value of textile enterprises above designated size decreased by 3.1% year-on-year; operating income declined by 9.7% year-on-year; total profit decreased by 8.6% year-on-year; the completion of fixed-asset investment decreased by about 18% year-on-year. Among the main categories of products, only the output of nonwovens increased significantly; the output of chemical fiber realized a slight positive growth after entering the fourth quarter of 2020, and the output of other products decreased compared with the same period last year.

In the case of a year-on-year decline in the total scale, there are still many positive performances in the economic operation of the textile industry in 2020.

First, the economy operation rebounded. Since March, with the steady progress of domestic resumption of work and production, economic performance has gradually returned to normal, and the growth rate of various operating indicators of the textile industry has shown a continuous upward trend. For example, from January to November, the growth rate of industrial added value of enterprises above designated size rose by 13.4 percentage points from the first quarter of 2020; the sales margin of enterprises above designated size reached 4.3%, 0.1 percentage point higher than the same period of 2019.

Second, the domestic market picked up continually. According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics, the year-on-year decline in retail sales of clothing, foot & hat wear, and knitted goods above designated size gradually narrowed from more than 30% at the beginning of 2020 to 7.9% from January to November. After August, retail sales have maintained positive growth in a single month. As online sales are more in line with the needs of safe and convenient demand under the pandemic, its sales scale has recovered more rapidly. By the end of July, the retail scale of online wearing goods has exceeded the level of the same period of the previous year.

Third, export competitiveness increased stably. According to customs statistics, China's textile and apparel exports totaled US$ 291.22 billion in 2020, up by 9.6% year-on-year. The export is close to the industry's best historical level set in 2014. Among them, anti-pandemic materials such as surgical masks and protective clothing serve as an important engine driving export growth, accounting for about 25% of the industry's total exports. This has caused changes in the export structure of the textile industry. For the first time, textile export exceeded the export of apparel, accounting for 52.8% of the total. The apparel export was relatively severe in the first half of 2020, But with the restart of the overseas economy in the second half of 2020, the export of apparel gradually improved based on the perfect industry system and the stable supply chain operation. By the end of 2020, the decline in export value of apparel had narrowed to 6.4%.

Fourth, some sectors in the industrial chain performed well. Driven by pandemic prevention materials, the economic indicators of technical textile industry performed well. From January to November, the industrial added value surged by 56.4% year-on-year, and the total profit ballooned by 218.6% year-on-year. The production and profitability of the home textiles industry has exceeded the level of the same period of 2019. From January to November, the industrial added value and total profit increased by 0.3% and 21.7% year-on-year respectively.

II. The Development Basis of the Textile Industry During the "14th Five-year Plan" Period

Looking back over the past five years, China's textile industry has maintained a strong momentum on the basis of the world's largest producer, laying a solid foundation for high-quality development in the "14th Five-year Plan" period (2021-2025). With the steady enhancement of technological innovation and application capabilities, China's textile industry has maintained the advantages of a complete industrial system and stable supply. In addition, the industry also has significantly improved the level of advanced, high-quality, and green manufacturing in the entire industry chain, which has made contribution to China's economic and social development. In terms of scale, China's total fiber processing currently accounts for about 50% of the world's total, chemical fiber output accounts for about 70%, and total exports account for about one-third. From the perspective of comprehensive capabilities, China's textile industry chain has reached the international advanced or leading level in terms of quality, production efficiency, independent process technology and equipment. The goal of becoming a textile power in the "11th Five-year Plan" period is basically achieved on schedule. According to the competitiveness assessment conducted by the Chinese Academy of Engineering on China's 26 manufacturing industries, the textile industry is one of China's top five industries in the world, and is in the first echelon in the process of building China's manufacturing power.

During the "14th Five-year Plan" period, the development situation facing China's textile industry will be ever more complex and severe. The world economy is now confronted with the most severe recession since the end of World War II, with drastic contractions of international trade and investment and disruptions in the industrial and supply chains. In the meantime, the growing backlash against economic globalization and mounting protectionism and unilateralism have dealt a blow to the global governance system and multilateral institutions, posing daunting challenges to economic and social development of the region and beyond. However, development opportunities still exist. The whole country is on course to fully build a moderately prosperous society. As China's economy grows, Chinese people naturally want to lead an even better life. This will create more demand for a greater variety of quality products, technologies and services from across the world, and promote China's textile industry. Nowadays, material technology plays a remarkable role in the new round of scientific and technological revolution. With high performance, multifunction, light weight, and flexibility, new fiber materials replace conventional materials, providing an important path for the textile industry to increase the added value.

III. Development Focus of the Textile Industry During the "14th Five-year Plan" Period

During the "14th Five-year Plan" period, based on China's new goals of modernization development and a new pattern of "dual circulation", China's textile industry will further promote high-quality development, strengthen the industrial foundation, and optimize the industrial system via the path of technology-driven, fashion-led, and green-oriented visions.

One is to adhere to the strategy of self-reliance technological innovation and promote the advanced industrial foundation.

Speed up independent innovation of new fiber materials and supporting equipment to make up for shortcomings in the industry chain. China's textile industry will focus on the breakthroughs in key technologies, so as to achieve better performance, low cost, and large-scale production of high-performance fibers and related composite materials. In addition, China's textile industry will also develop supporting technical equipment, filling the gap of cutting-edge technology in the industry chain. Bio-based fibers such as polylactic acid, new solvent-based cellulose fibers, bio-based polyamides, and chitosan should also be paid attention to during the "14th Five-year Plan" Period. The industry will strive to make a breakthrough in the large-scale production of monomers and raw materials, so as to modify the high proportion of petrochemical raw materials, and improve the safety and controllability of the industrial chain. Develop high-quality functional, biodegradable aliphatic polyester and other new fiber materials to enrich product lines and strengthen the advantages of basic fiber materials.

Persist in improving green manufacturing capabilities to expand sustainable development. China's textile industry will vigorously promote green textile manufacturing technology, developing high-efficiency, low-consumption, and short-flow printing and dyeing technology, so as to further optimize the variety, quality, and production efficiency of fabrics based on more green technologies, and reduce energy consumption, water consumption, and pollutant emissions. Key technologies for the recycling of waste textiles will be another focus, so as to break the technical bottlenecks that restrict the development of waste textiles recycling systems and enhance the added value and competitiveness of products. Promote the design and development of green fibers and green fabrics, build green textile factories, and carry out pilot demonstrations of green supply chains. With China already committing to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060, the Central Economic Work Conference urged quicker steps to come up with an action plan that enables the peaking of emissions. It called for accelerated efforts to better the industry and energy structures and enable the peaking of coal consumption at an early date while bolstering the development of new energy.

Develop high-end textiles to boost Chinese textile industry's status in the industrial chain and value chain. China's textile industry will strengthen the R&D and application of processing technologies for the entire industry chain such as spinning, weaving, nonwovens, dyeing and finishing, and sewing, to comprehensively strengthen the foundation of advanced and high-quality manufacturing industries. Integrating new materials, new technologies and the upgrading trend of domestic consumption, industry and enterprises are trying to improve the quality and technological added value of apparel and home textiles via developing high-end textiles with high comfort, easy care, antibacterial functions, or multi-functional composites. In addition, the textile industry will upgrade the advanced manufacturing technology level of technical textiles. As for product development in key areas such as hygiene, environmental protection, emergency and public safety, geotechnical construction, national defense and military industry, aerospace, the textile industry will focus more on product development and expand the application of fibers.

Vigorously develop intelligent manufacturing, optimize production efficiency and production mode, and ensure the stable and safe development of the industry. China's textile industry will strengthen the research and development of common key technologies for intelligent manufacturing such as industrial Internet, artificial intelligence, industrial robots, and big data, so as to solve the key technical problems in the equipment of textile intelligent manufacturing, intelligent workshops/factories, and intelligent service systems. Integrators of textile intelligent manufacturing system will be promoted in the future, supporting collaborative innovation of cross-industry enterprises, forming an intelligent manufacturing ecology that is advanced by flagship enterprises and a large number of specialized enterprises deeply engaged. Through intelligent manufacturing, China's textile industry can ensure the stability and safety of the domestic industrial chain based on improved production efficiency and optimized production processes.

The second is to adhere to the deepening of the supply-side structural adjustment as the main line of development, and promote the modernization of the industrial system.

Vigorously optimize the industrial chain structure and enhance the value creation ability of the textile industry system. China's textile industry will pool resources from enterprises, universities, and research institutes, directing them to focus on new textile materials, green manufacturing, and high-end textiles, strengthening the development and application of supporting products and key technical equipment. Technical textiles will be the future focus. The textile industry will strive to create the cross-sectoral application system of key products such as medical and hygiene, geotechnical construction, and safety protection, further increasing the proportion of technical textiles in the total fiber processing volume.

Based on the integration into the "dual circulation" development pattern, China's textile industry will promote the optimization and adjustment of the industrial regional structure. Continue to promote the transfer of the textile industry to central and western China. Based on the characteristic resource, China's textile industry will continuously improve the industrial system, supporting services and comprehensive investment environment, so as to build the layout system of new-type urbanization of the textile industry.