Thailand’s textile industry is a major non-western entity that constitutes more than 2,000 garment companies and an almost equal number of textile firms, most of which are located around Bangkok and eastern Thailand. The textile and apparel industry of the country plays a key role in the country’s GDP and export revenue. The textile industry in the country is quite expansive in nature, with a greater level of proficiency in the production, design, and sale of home textiles. It is a world-renowned silk producer, which also manufactures spin or twist yarn. It is also excelling in the latest trend of eco-friendly finishing, dyeing, and printing services, which meet global standards, although it must deal with some issues.
Domestic consumer demand is lower in the Thai textile and garments industry, due to lower purchasing power, which is compelling the players to scour foreign markets to sell their textile and apparel products. Also, the textile industry in the country faces a shortage of raw material. For instance, it produces hardly 2% of the raw cotton that is in demand for its cotton fabric manufacturing. This may hinder the newer market opportunities as compared with China and India. Currently, the garment industry supports more than 1 million employees, while the textile industry employs about 200,000 people, making these two industries the second most important employment sector in the country.
Thailand focuses on the United States, Japan, and the United Kingdom to export most of its garments. It is also focusing on the Russian market. The garment industry is expanding its footprint globally, while the government is aiming to become more involved with the industry by providing export credits and the development of vocational training. The private sector has partnered with the government to boost innovation in the textile industry and bring in modern technology into the industrial processes of weaving, finishing, printing, knitting, and dying. Presently, the focus is on modernizing technology for greater efficiency, as well as improving the skills of people working in the sector and increasing the competence of businesses operating in the textile and apparel industry.
Non-woven materials are used in a wide range of applications in the paper and packaging, automobile, agriculture, construction, textiles, healthcare, and medical industries. They are made of cross-laid, parallel-laid, or randomly laid webs tied up with adhesives or thermoplastic fibers. The material has properties of cushioning, thermal insulation, flame retardancy, strength, stretch, and softness. The non-woven materials segment in Thailand is anticipated to witness significant growth, owing to its multiple applications, during the forecast period. Major applications of the product are in the automobile industry. Many interior and exterior parts of vehicles are manufactured using these materials. Physical properties, such as being lightweight, high moldability, and durability, make these substances suitable to be used in vehicle components.
The healthcare industry is a significant contributor to the growth of the non-woven materials segment. Increasing safety measures while undergoing medical surgeries and other medical operations are anticipated to positively affect the market studied in the future. These materials are used in road constructions in the form of geotextiles, to increase the durability of roads. Furthermore, the maintenance cost associated with the use of these substances is quite low. The growing transportation and construction industry are a driving factor in market growth. The Government of Thailand has been supporting the growth of the non-woven textiles segment in the country.
To meet the newly rising demand derived from the non-apparel side, the country’s textile industry has significantly expanded in terms of its functionalities and variety, providing fabrics with functions that go far and above the home furnishing and clothing. The protective textiles are the products used to safeguard the user from any kind of environmental effect that may result in serious injuries. The demand for these products has been increasing significantly since 2012, with an average growth rate of 2.43% from 2012 to 2018. The flame-resistant suit is one of the most common protective uniforms. Thailand is home to many leading protective textile manufacturers, such as Glofab and Insuretex, which serve both the local and foreign markets.
On a global scale, the textile industry in the country faces competition with other low-cost manufacturing countries, such as Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Cambodia. Hence, the country needs to transform from a lower market, where the competition is huge, to a market that offers innovative products with fewer competitors and higher added value. The key market players include LukcyTex, Thanulux, Erawan, Hi-Tech Apparel, and Nan Yang Textile Group, among others. The sector is made up of a few big firms and many small and medium enterprises (SMEs). More than 90% of them fall under SMEs. Thailand targets the United States of America, Japan and the United Kingdom to export most of its garments. It is also eyeing the Russian market. The garment industry is expanding its footprint globally, while the government is trying to become more involved with the industry by providing export credits and development of vocational training. The private sector has partnered with the government to boost innovation in the textile industry and to bring in modern technology into weaving, finishing, printing, knitting and dyeing. The focus is on modernising technology for greater efficiency, as well as improving skills of people working in the sector and competence of the businesses in the textile and apparel industry.
What proves to be an advantage to Thailand is its strategic location to become a distribution centre in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). However, with globalisation comes the risk of global competition, different trade blocks and group agreements. The implementation of ASEAN Economic Community at the end of 2015 could bring advantages and disadvantages. The deal could shift production capacity to low-wage countries and at the same time value-added products could develop in new markets, posing problems for the Thai textile and apparel industry. Despite various threats jeopardising market deals and domestic issues, Thailand is set to create its own niche in the textile and apparel markets, complemented by the country’s growing retail sector.