Thai textile-garment industry weaves magic as export numbers surge


Two of Thailand’s economic engines are beginning to roar again after being ravaged by falling foreign demand during the Covid-19 crisis. The textile and garment industries suffered severe impacts in 2020, with 3,000 factories forced to switch to sewing face masks and PPE suits to survive.

But the Thai fabric industry turned a corner in 2021 and has now catapulted back to full capacity.

In the first 11 months of 2021, Thailand exported 64.8 billion baht of garments and 188.6 billion baht of textiles, Thai Garment Manufacturers Association president Yuttana Silpsarnvitch revealed.

Thailand benefited from increased demand for garments from the US due to its trade war with China.

Thai textile exports were boosted by demand from apparel-producing territories such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, India, Europe and the US garment factories.

Thailand’s garment and textile factories have returned to 100 per cent capacity, but this has triggered a labour shortage after foreign workers returned to their home countries during the Covid-19 crisis. The factories are currently short of 30,000 to 50,000 workers and are dependent on overtime work.

The Garment Manufacturers Association forecasts export growth of 10 per cent in 2022 while textile exports are expected to grow 15 per cent.

Yuttana said demand for garments and textiles was being driven by the trend for environmentally friendly products. Major brands are ordering products made from recycled fibres, organic cotton and other eco-friendly materials to satisfy customer demand. These items cost about 20 per cent more than regular clothes, he said.