Mirco Bertocchi isn't waiting to see the outcome of China's tensions with the United States and Europe over surging textile exports. He's too busy selling...
SHANGHAI, China — Mirco Bertocchi isn’t waiting to see the outcome of China’s tensions with the United States and Europe over surging textile exports.
He’s too busy selling Italian-made weaving looms to Chinese mills.
“If you cry, you don’t solve the problem,” Bertocchi, a sales manager for Panter Textile Machinery in Gandino, near Milan, Italy, said yesterday at the annual Shangtex trade show.
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About 1,300 companies from the United States, Europe, Japan and elsewhere were displaying looms, knitting machines and other technology at the International Exhibition on Textile Industry, hoping to cash in as the business booms in China.
While U.S. and European textile producers complain that a flood of low-priced Chinese exports is ruining their business, equipment makers say the surge is creating new markets for their own goods.
Shangtex organizers say the number of exhibitors showing their wares in a sprawling space that covers seven aircraft hangar-size halls is 40 percent bigger than last year.
Panter has been selling about 1,800 looms a year in China, making up for a slump in business at home, he said.
“In Europe we don’t sell like before. So we sell to South America, to Taiwan,” Bertocchi said. “The world is round.”
Textiles helped ignite China’s export boom in the early 1980s, when Hong Kong clothing makers shifted production to the cheaper mainland.
Even today, China’s prices are so low that the United States says imports have risen at an annual rate of 54 percent since a worldwide quota agreement expired Jan. 1. Europe reports an even bigger surge.
The United States and the European Union have taken steps to restrain imports, prompting Chinese accusations that they are violating free-trade principles. Beijing says it will take steps to defend its market access.
Peter Cunningham, director of North Carolina’s Department of Commerce, said quotas levied by the United States have bought time for the state, which has lost 175,000 textile-related jobs since 2000 and has 102,000 left.
But he said North Carolina is pursuing new business niches in China’s growing market.
“We’re working very hard to help existing companies see where they can find competitive advantages,” Cunningham said.
He cited nonwoven fabrics — an area where China lags behind — as one of many promising areas. Such fabrics are used in many industrial applications.
“They’re cutting jobs at the low end and adding higher-end jobs such as design and technology,” he said.
China’s competitive strength still lies in low labor costs for weaving or stitching, but manufacturers are upgrading technology, hoping to export textile machinery themselves.
This country’s textile-machinery exports jumped 28 percent to $676 million in 2004, according to government figures. Imports edged up only 0.9 percent, to $4.7 billion.
Sales manager at Panter Textile Machinery in Gandino in Italy