The textile and garment industry looks towards sustainable development

VCN - According to a representative of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association, the textile and garment industry is facing many challenges that must be overcome to adapt and develop sustainably.
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The textile industry has to meet new requirements for sustainable development and environmental protection. Photo: Nguyen Hue.

Many challenges

According to Ms. Pham Tuyet Mai, Chief Representative of the Textile and Apparel Association in Ho Chi Minh City, there have been many favorable factors for the development of the textile and garment industry. Recommendations to remove difficulties for the industry have been recognized and adjusted quickly by the Government and ministries. Specifically, there have been many provinces and cities establishing their own industrial parks for textile and garment activities. In particular, industrial zones have invested and put into operation wastewater treatment systems to help businesses complete their responsibility to protect the environment during the process of production. In particular, specialization in waste treatment activities in industrial parks has also helped businesses focus more. Specialized inspection regulations regarding aromatic substance or formaldehyde have been removed. The time for customs clearance was also shortened, creating a positive impact on businesses to speed up the ability to meet orders of partners, while export turnover also increased sharply.

However, in the future, the textile and garment industry is forecasted to face two major challenges. The FTAs that Vietnam has signed all have requirements related to the environment, sustainable development and green development. This requires businesses to make efforts to improve both product quality and the production process. If enterprises cause environmental pollution in the production process, do not apply solutions to reduce waste, save energy and natural resources there is a risk they won’t receive orders or are rejected, especially orders from big brands around the world.

In fact, the majority of Vietnamese textile and garment enterprises are outsourcing, so they depend heavily on orders from other countries. On the other hand, production technology lines are outdated. Therefore, along with soft technical barriers on social responsibility for the environment and public health, there are certainly negative impacts on the industry's growth momentum.

Mr. Le Tien Truong, General Director of Vietnam Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex) said that in 2018, textile enterprises have reached export turnover of over 36 billion USD, due to the advantages of technical skills, green production criteria, advanced management, and deep relations with traditional customers. However, the global textile market is becoming more and more challenging, as trade tension increases, affecting the price of services as well as the needs of customers. Besides, strong export countries also consider Vietnam a rival to curb. To continue to maintain the growth rate of the textile and garment industry in 2019 and the near future, the industry needs to innovate to compete with smarter methods.

According to Mr. Truong, textile enterprises have no choice but to develop a new set of competitive solutions, including: Focusing on technological innovation, energy saving, greening of production, improving total factor productivity (TFP) through many solutions, including individual labor productivity by automation. In addition, taking care of new technologies, linking businesses together through the system using common information, artificial intelligence and big data are also mandatory factors in the competitive roadmap in the coming years.

Must be "green"

Mr. Thomas Mills, a representative of Tommy Hilfiger, said many Vietnamese textile enterprises need to change for sustainable development. There are 3 main reasons for Vietnamese enterprises to change. One is the partners - the major garment brands who are prioritizing orders with green enterprises. Secondly, consumers around the world have begun to consider the social responsibility factor of the manufacturing enterprises, and finally the garment brands are ready to join the goal of reducing greenhouse emissions. In fact, the 148 major garment brands in the world participated in the initiative to use clean energy and will deploy it in 2022. Regarding objective factors, changes in the supply of water in the upper Mekong region also have a strong impact on the demand for water resources for the textile industry.

On a broader scale, more than 50% of power plants in Vietnam are using coal. As Vietnam's Government committed to cutting 8% of emissions causing environmental pollution, green development is the only solution for businesses to reduce pressure on energy security and sustainable development. On the other hand, if industrial production enterprises all request the supply and use of clean energy, it will also create certain impacts in forcing suppliers to supply clean energy production.

Mr. Vu Duc Giang, Chairman of the Textile and Garment Association, said that the development of Vietnam's textile and garment industry is associated with economic development. In which, the textile and garment industry must not only solve the problems of jobs and industrialization of localities, but the greening of the textile and garment industry also impacts the environment and the sustainable development of the economy and textile industry. Therefore, Vietnam’s textile and garment industry continues to comply with the co-operative relationship, sustainable development in the greening program of the textile industry and save water resources.

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In the future, Vietnam’s Textile and Garment industry will face many challenges and internal competition of the industry and the global economy. In response to these challenges, Vietnam’s Textile and Garment industry is actively applying Industry 4.0 and implementing solutions on Government programs for the textile and garment industry including the implementation of signed FTAs, affecting competitiveness on labor; complying with legal regulations on environment, saving water resources and greening the textile and garment industry, Mr. Giang said.

The green transformation in the textile sector with the participation of hundreds of apparel brands in the world has placed new challenges on Vietnam's textile and garment industry. In order to maintain export turnover growth, businesses must not only meet the requirements of origin production and materials in the domestic market, but also prove their social responsibility to the community.
By Nguyen Hue/ Kieu Oanh

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