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Korean Textile Industry Losing Production Capabilities
Competitiveness Evaporating
Korean Textile Industry Losing Production Capabilities
  • By Jung Suk-yee
  • June 26, 2015, 08:00
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Seamstresses work at the Sonbong Textile Factory Saturday inside North Korea's Rason Special Economic Zone.
Seamstresses work at the Sonbong Textile Factory Saturday inside North Korea's Rason Special Economic Zone.

 

The number of Korean textile manufacturers and their employees decreased by no less than 3,509 and 110,293 from a decade ago, respectively.

The weakening of the foundation of the industry has deteriorated its production and added value, too. The production of the domestic textile industry during the last five years increased by 3.9 percent on a yearly average basis, while the average added up to 5.9 percent in the manufacturing sector as a whole. The percentages were 2.5 percent vs. 5.4 percent when it comes to the annual average growth in added value.

This can be attributed mainly to an increase in textile imports. Between 2010 and 2014, Korea’s textile exports and imports increased by 3.7 percent and 9.0 percent on a yearly average, respectively. The other factors include a rapid rise in labor costs and industrial electric bills, difficulties in employment, excessive competition and aging equipment and facilities.

Experts point out that a textile industrial complex in North Korea can be an alternative to the high-cost and low-efficiency structure of the industry. “With even the Kaesong Industrial Complex suffering from labor shortage these days, we need to find an optimal site in the North and launch economic cooperation projects there,” one of them advised, adding, “At the same time, more foreigners should be let in to work in the industry, and the related processes should be expedited.”