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Hammered by coronavirus, textile producers switch to medical supplies

2020-03-17 15:20

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Cotton futures opened lower Tuesday in daytime trading on the Zhengzhou Commodity Exchange in China, with the most active cotton contract losing 175 yuan (about 25 U.S. dollars) to open at 11,400 yuan per tonne.

Hammered by the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, the cotton futures dropped by more than 1,000 yuan, or 8 percent, over the past two weeks.

China is the world's largest producer, consumer and exporter of textile.

While the textile industry has seen a shrinking global market amid the epidemic, Chinese textile companies are transforming their products into medical supplies such as masks and protective suits.

Xinye Textile, a listed company based in central China's Henan Province, disclosed on March 3 that the company would invest 120 million yuan on its project of high-end non-woven cloth used to produce protective gear. The project is expected to be operational in September, with an expected annual sales value of 425 million yuan.

Following the statement, shares of the company surged to the daily trading limit for five consecutive days.

Chinese customs data showed the export value of textile clothing in the first two months plummeted by 20 percent to 29.83 billion U.S. dollars.

An executive of a Jiangsu-based company engaged in clothing trade said the global spread of the epidemic would further reduce about 20 percent of the orders from overseas in April.

Li Shue, a cotton researcher with the CEFC futures, said downstream order shortages amid the epidemic outbreak would not change in the short term.

On Feb. 10, Zhejiang, a coastal province and major clothes production base in east China, unveiled a policy requesting 15 clothes companies to produce masks to meet the explosive demand across the country as well as the world.

To date, almost every provincial-level region on the Chinese mainland has seen new mask production lines, bringing the daily production capacity of masks nationwide from 20 million to over 116 million by the end of February, according to the National Development and Reform Commission.

In Weihai, east China's Shandong Province, major clothing producer Dishang Group last month started producing protective suits that were urgently needed in hard-hit regions of China by the virus.

Assisted by local government, the company took only one day to sterilize its workshops, install equipment, allocate materials and acquire approval for expanding its business scope.

By Tuesday, nine production lines had been put into operation to meet the demand both at home and abroad, said Zhu Lihua, chairman of the group.

Li Lingshen, president of China Non-wovens and Industrial Textiles Association, said the swift product switch of manufacturers lied in the intact and flexible supply chain, which was also a key to cope with industrial challenges and resist risks.
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