Vietnam has the potential to turn a sustainable supplier of choice in the textile and apparel sector if it continues to ensure environmental protection in manufacturing, Vu Duc Giang, Chairman of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS) told the 2019 Global Textile and Apparel Supply Chain Conference (TASCC) in Ho Chi Minh City recently.
Labour costs in Vietnam are cheaper than those in China, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines, and free trade agreements (FTAs) have a key role play as well, Giang said. The country’s textile and apparel industry contributes 15 per cent of total export value and had an annual growth rate of 12 per cent from 2010 to 2017. Foreign companies have so far invested about $17.5 bn in the sector.
However, the sector’s adverse environmental impact—intensive water extraction, use and discharge of waste water and high-energy consumption for water heating and steam generation—are big concerns, according to a report. TASCC was organised in Vietnam this year after its 11 previous editions were held in China. Co-hosted by VITAS and the China National Textile and Apparel Council (CNATC), the event focused on sustainable development trend towards a green garment industry and regional solutions to global challenges.
Vietnam is committed to fully implementing 17 goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to ensure economic, social and environmental benefits. VITA set up an environment committee three years ago and has taken part in an action programme for the Green the Textile and Apparel Industry group. However, the challenge is fabrics and materials in the country still mainly depend on imports—99 per cent of cotton and fibres are imported every year, said Giang.
Bùi Hoàng Yen, Deputy Representative of Vietnam’s department of trade promotion under the Ministry of trade and industry, said it was important to develop a sustainable textile and apparel supply chain partnership with China.