According to experts, more efforts are required for China to have a much greater say in the cotton textile industry, including more participation in setting prices and formulating standards.

According to a recent study by Qianzhan Industry Research Institute, the textile and apparel industries were seriously impacted by the economic shocks of order cancellations and decreased demand for new garments during the coronavirus-affected 2020.

“The top priority is to reduce inventories and make a medium to long-term sustainable development plan, ” the report said.

In addition to exporting a large number of masks, protective clothing and garments to the global market since the second quarter of last year, many Chinese garment manufacturers have also borne the pressure of growing labour, material and shipping costs as they have increased their output, said Sun Ruizhe, president of the China National Textile and Apparel Council.

“China’s garment companies always contribute to the improvement of trade order through working with all parties and supporting the enhancement of international economic and trade rules and trade facilitation, ” Sun said.

“As it is unlikely that the pandemic will be fully contained over the short-term, new trade models such as e-commerce and artificial intelligence-empowered online transactions will become more effective for both China and the world’s garment businesses, further enriching and upgrading their industrial and supply chains.”

To mitigate potential risks caused by external factors, China’s garment industry needs to participate more in future standards setting and hold cultural events to introduce their products on the international stage, as well as bring in advanced technological solutions, industrial practice theories and aesthetic value orientation, Sun added.

“Even though they don’t produce many garments, developed countries have long-dominated international technical standards. Therefore, the formulation of a new generation of standards based on information technologies, and vigorously promoting the standardisation of technology, have become tools for developed countries to dominate the sector, ” Sun said.

Sun’s views are echoed by Cheng Zhiwei, a researcher of foreign trade at Jilin Academy of Social Sciences, who said Chinese companies should actively participate in the formulation of global standards and technical regulations as well as jointly establish an international standardisation organisation with China as an important member in the coming years.

Cheng added that it is also necessary for domestic players to speed up the development of key technical standards to promote the international development of China’s technology, products, engineering advantages and services.

According to a new report from Qianzhan Industry Research Institute, the textile and apparel market will continue to grow steadily with the ongoing gradual economic recovery and production resumption.

China will continue to promote high-quality growth in the textile and apparel industries under the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) and the current dual-circulation development trend, with an emphasis on boosting innovation and optimising its industrial system.