China safeguards in three
categories invoked by CITA

Nov. 24, 2003

WASHINGTON, DC - Months of mobilizing and galvanizing paid off for the U.S. textile industry last week, as safeguard relief on three textile products imported to the U.S. from China was granted by the U.S. government on Nov. 18.

The Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements (CITA), chaired by Jim Leonard, approved the textile/fiber coalition's safeguard petitions on knit fabric, brassieres and dressing gowns.

Approval of the petition triggers a consultation process with the Chinese to limit the growth of imports to the United States in these categories. If no agreement on limiting imports can be reached, the U.S. may limit the level of shipments from China to a level no lower than 7.5 percent above the amount entered during the previous year of the most recent 14 months preceding the request for consultations. That restriction would remain in effect until Jan. 1, 2005, when worldwide textile quotas come off among World Trade Organization (WTO) members.

The petitions were filed by the industry under a special provision of China's WTO accession agreement that allows the U.S. (and other WTO members) to impose temporary quotas on textile imports from China in the event those imports are found to cause "market disruption."

"This decision demonstrates the Bush Administration's commitment to our

trade rules and America's workers," Secretary of Commerce Don Evans said in a statement. "I believe this will advance our future dealings with China, for no market operates fairly without open dialogue.

"The availability of this safeguard mechanism is an important tool for

facilitating China's transition into the WTO," he added. "We look forward to beginning our consultations with China, with the goal of achieving a mutually beneficial result on this issue."

U.S. textile industry leaders hailed the decision, but some cautioned that this represents only a first step.

"We won a little skirmish, but we haven't begun to win the battle," Steve Dobbins, CEO of Carolina Mills, Maiden, NC, and chairman of the American Yarn Spinners Association (AYSA), told members of the Southern Textile Association (STA) during their Piedmont Division Fall Conference on Nov. 20. "Hopefully, this decision will embolden us. It sets a precedent and it sets the stage for the big day - Jan. 1, 2005."

In textile and apparel categories no longer under quota, China had 9 percent U.S. market share in 2001, compared to 53 percent U.S. market share as of July 2003, according to the U.S. textile/fiber coalition.

The U.S. trade deficit in textiles and apparel totaled $60.6 billion in 2002. The trade deficit with China was $10.8 billion.

"The textile/fiber coalition would like to thank President Bush, Secretary Evans and CITA for approving the safeguard petitions," said Allen E. Gant Jr., CEO of Glen Raven, Inc., Glen Raven, NC. "If properly implemented, the safeguard will bring a measure of relief to a financially distressed industry. That being said, much work remains to be done to address the overwhelming threat of China in our market."

When quotas on the most sensitive categories such as cotton knit shirts and trousers expire in 2005, China is expected to capture 75 percent of the entire U.S. textile and apparel market within two to three years, according to the coalition.

A study released by the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI), predicts that if China captures 75 percent of the U.S. market, 630,000 textile and apparel manufacturing jobs will be lost, 1,300 plants will close and $42 billion in U.S. market share will be shifted from other countries, including the U.S., to China.

According to the coalition, 316,000 U.S. textile and apparel manufacturing jobs, or 30 percent, have been lost since January 2001.

"This decision sends a strong signal to Chinese officials that they should take immediate steps to cease their attempts to dominate international trade in textiles and apparel, including an immediate end to China's blatant manipulation of its currency," said Cass Johnson, interim president of ATMI. "If China continues to pursue a strategy of flooding the U.S. and other markets with unfairly and illegally undervalued textile and apparel products, we will demand our government respond with further safeguard actions. And we hope and expect the Bush Administration and our supporters in Congress will back us up on these requests."

Congressional support

Twenty-nine U.S. Senators and 144 U.S. Representatives, including the entire North Carolina congressional delegation, wrote President Bush to urge him to invoke the special textile China safeguard.

"The textile industry is one of the fastest-growing segments of China's exploding economy," said U.S. Republican Congressman Robin Hayes, who represents North Carolina's 8th district. "That unrestricted growth is probably the biggest threat facing our ailing domestic textile industry. The decision to impose serious curbs on Chinese fabric and apparel categories is a positive development for our domestic textile manufacturers and manufactures in general."

One of President Bush's stanchest congressional supporters, U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC), in September fired a public salvo to the president on the issue of lost manufacturing jobs. During a gathering in Gastonia, NC, she said, "This may step on some toes, but I've been thinking about it a long time and I haven't said anything," she said. "There comes a point if he doesn't care about us, we won't care about him when election time comes."

Myrick, who in the past two months has met with Secretary Evans and Secretary of the Treasury John Snow regarding China's unfair trade practices, applauded the CITA ruling.

"I have been working for months to convey to the administration the challenges the textile industry is facing," said Myrick. "I am happy they chose to impose these safeguards so that we can begin to level the playing field for our workers. There is still work to be done, but we are now moving in a positive direction for textiles."

Ruling assailed

China denounced the move, canceling missions to buy U.S. farm goods such as cotton, wheat and soybeans and threatening other retaliation.

"The Chinese government expresses deep regret and firmly opposes this decision," Commerce Ministry spokesman Chong Quan said in a statement.

The decision "runs against WTO principles on free trade, transparency and non-discrimination," he added.

U.S. retailers also slammed the ruling, saying that it will create shortages that "could lead to dramatic increases in prices for American consumers while doing nothing to protect American jobs," said Eric Autor, NRF vice president and International Trade Counsel. "This decision is based on politics, not facts."

"Rather than undertaking sensible policy steps to make the textile industry more competitive in the global economy, the government is falling back on the same old out-of-date protectionist approach that has failed repeatedly over the years," he added. "This decision will do nothing to help the textile industry address the core problems facing the industry that have been around since well before China became a major exporter to the United States. Quotas on products from China are only going to drive trade to other foreign countries and not protect or create jobs in the United States."

Moore out at ATMI

Nov. 24, 2003

Moore

Willis C. "Billy" Moore III has left Unifi, Inc. to join Polymer Group, Inc. (PGI), as a result relinquishing his duties as chairman of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI).

James Chesnutt, president and CEO of National Spinning Co., Washington, NC, has moved up from vice chairman to replace Moore as ATMI's top elected official.

Moore joined Greensboro, NC-based Unifi as chief financial officer in 1994, leaving the company as its president of government relations. He joined non-ATMI PGI as chief financial officer, the North Charleston, SC, company announced Nov. 11.

ATMI bylaws dictate that officers' companies be members of the association.

"I am extremely pleased to join PGI, a company with a strong commitment to customer service and product innovation as well as financial integrity," Moore said in a PGI release. "I look forward to contributing to the overall success of the company."

Moore is the second ATMI chairman to leave office during his term in recent years. J. Patrick Danahy was forced to step down from ATMI when he resigned as Cone Mills president in 1999.

Chesnutt recently served as president of the American Yarn Spinners Association and also has served as president of the North Carolina Manufacturers Association.

Industry leaders react

Nov. 24, 2003

"The successful safeguard action is a resounding victory for grassroots political activism. Companies educated their employees about the importance of trade policy. Tens of thousands of textile, apparel, fiber and yarn spinning workers wrote letters and made phone calls. Hundreds more registered to vote. Everyone talked to their friends and urged them to act too. The coalition will stay mobilized as long as it takes to stabilize the industry."

- Steve Dobbins, CEO of Carolina Mills and chairman of the American Yarn Spinners Association (AYSA)

"These safeguard petitions send a message that China, with its bevy of anti-competitive job-destroying trade practices, can no longer take this market for granted. As the administration has acknowledged time after time, China manipulates its currency, subsidizes its exports and smuggles goods across our border. The fight for fair trade has only begun and the coalition will not cease in its advocacy simply because the China safeguard has been invoked on these products."

- Jim Chesnutt, CEO of National Spinning Co. and chairman of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI)

"These petitions would never have been approved without the help of our friends on Capitol Hill. The coalition would especially like to thank U.S. Representatives Howard Coble, John Spratt, Virgil Goode and Bill Pascrell, U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and Ernest F. "Fritz" Hollings, and all the members of Congress who sent letters to President Bush and the administration urging implementation of the China safeguard. This strong, bipartisan coalition really helped push the safeguard petitions over the goal line."

- Gaylon Booker, immediate past president of the National Cotton Council (NCC)

"It is critical that the administration set a strong and clear precedent by insisting on and implementing the lowest possible growth figure - 7.5 percent. Any figure higher than that number will set a dangerous precedent that the United States is not willing to fully implement the safeguard. This could have a chilling effect on textile investment in the United States."

- Bill Giblin, CEO of Tweave Inc. and chairman of the National Textile Association (NTA)

"The coalition will not relax in its vigilance simply because the China safeguard has been invoked. Any gains from the safeguard action could easily be wiped out with a negative Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) or other trade deals with loopholes for non-signatory countries. In addition, the U.S. government must not lower its tariffs on textile and apparel products when the markets of other countries are effectively closed with tariff and non-tariff barriers."

- George Shuster, CEO of Cranston Print Works and co-chair of the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition (AMTAC)

"The success of the safeguard petitions shows what a united industry can do. This coalition of textile and fiber manufacturers, apparel workers, labor and management and cotton growers and wool producers will stick together and continue to fight for the improved health of the industry. Much work remains to ensure a profitable and job-creating U.S. market share for U.S. manufacturers and producers."

- Geoff Schofield, president of Drake Extrusion Inc. and immediate past chairman of the American Fiber Manufacturers Association (AFMA)

"The decision today to invoke the China safeguard was the result of a groundswell of concern and anger on the part of U.S. workers over our failed trade policy. It's important to recognize that the approval of these three safeguard petitions is a first step in developing a much more comprehensive and rational trading environment with China. Even individuals such as Warren Buffett are calling for a massive overhaul of U.S. trade policy. We simply must address this issue, not only for the textile sector, but also for all manufacturing in order to prevent the continued loss of millions of high-paying jobs in the United States."

- Roger Milliken, CEO of Milliken & Co. and co-chair of AMTAC

"The only way to stop more petitions from being filed is for the U.S. government to negotiate a comprehensive bilateral agreement with the Chinese that covers all sensitive textile and apparel categories. This would eliminate business risk and uncertainty for all sides. This is what the U.S. government has almost always done in the past when it has implemented a quantitative import limitation like the China safeguard."

- Auggie Tantillo, AMTAC Washington coordinator

"The textile and apparel industries have been hurt severely by inappropriate behavior on the part of China and other exporting countries. There is nothing inconsistent between movement toward relaxation of trade barriers and moderation of shock waves and it is encouraging that the administration is mindful of the textile industry's precarious condition. We believe that the real solution to the China problem is to revise the January 1, 2005 quota date to a more gradual phase in over a number of years. That would give the industry a chance to consolidate and restructure itself to cope with the inevitable globalization."

- Wilbur L. Ross, chairman of Burlington Industries

IFAI 2003 exhibitors
appear uniformly upbeat

Nov. 24, 2003

Visitors enter IFAI Expo in Las Vegas Convention Center. Attendance totaled 7,425, nearing the record set in 1999.
Photo courtesy IFAI

LAS VEGAS - IFAI Expo 2003, sponsored by the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI), boasted near record attendance with 7,425 visitors and exhibitors.

Last year's show in Charlotte had 7,356. IFAI Expo 1999, held in San Diego, holds the record with 7,542 participants.

"This has been a really good show," said L. Allen Barwick Jr. of Shuford Mills, Inc. "There were a lot of people on the floor; that's what we like to see. We contact our clients and invite them to the show, but it's always great to see a lot of potential new customers at IFAI Expo."

The Fabric Structures 2003 conference, which took place the day before the show, had nearly 200 participants including architects, designers and manufacturers.

"That's part of our concept now, doing smaller international conferences that we don't feel can stand alone," said IFAI President Steve Warner. "We plan to do two or three of these symposiums at each Expo. We will tend to emphasize one or two markets each time."

Exhibitors 2003 appeared uniformly upbeat about business conditions for the foreseeable future. The awning and marine business got off to a late start due to bad weather and war jitters, but came on strong in the fall. Companies with significant military business reported strong demand through next year.

The one concern that surfaced over and over again was inventory control. Everyone's customers seem to be ordering later and later, raising inventory management to an essential art form.

Glen Raven

Last year Glen Raven introduced the Sunbrella Graphics System for putting graphics onto Sunbrella awnings using 3M™ Scotchcal™ ElectroCut™ Opaque Films. The system has been a big hit with installers, and the company has increased its production capacity to meet demand.

In Las Vegas, Glen Raven emphasized its jacquard and decorative fabrics, promoting its famous Sunbrella brand for interior and furniture applications. The company said it sees furnishings as a big potential growth area. Meantime, its other markets are also strong.

"A lot of our business segments have shown improvement," said Harry Gobble, marketing director, Glen Raven Custom Fabrics. "The RV (recreational vehicle) industry is very healthy. The boat industry is better. Their sales and business are up 10 percent to 20 percent. Low interest rates have really helped them."

John Boyle & Co.

Paul Stelzner, president of John Boyle & Co. reported that his company's sales were up modestly over last year. He said he expects next year to be a little stronger.

This summer the company introduced its Veranda™, an opaque, vinyl laminated, 100 percent polyester awning fabric with a specially formulated PVDF finish, which makes it easy to clean and more resistant to UV rays.

"There is a trend in the awning and camping market to go to fabrics that have better stain resistance and clean up better," Stelzner said. "The technology has gotten to the point where you can do that now at a more modest up-charge than say five years ago. I think we will see that trend continue."

The Astrup Co.

The awning and marine fabric markets are moving to more vivid colors and more creative graphics, according to Jeffrey Kirk, president, The Astrup Co. A wet spring in the Northeast - one of Astrup's key markets - got this seasonal business off to a late start.

"This year business started off pretty good and then fell off," Kirk said. "I think that was a lot of angst over the geopolitical situation, and the economy was also a factor."

The company just celebrated the first anniversary of its transactional Web site, Astrup Online, which allows customers to view and place orders seven days a week. Customer usage has grown steadily.

"Astrup Online has been an enormous success for us and has proved to be a great business tool for our customers," Kirk said.

Leadership: It's your ship

 
Captain D. Michael Abrashoff, author of It's Your Ship and IFAI Expo's keynote speaker, shares the story of how his grassroots leadership campaign that turned things around on the U.S.S. Benford.
Photo courtesy IFAI

The keynote address at IFAI Expo was given by Captain D. Michael Abrashoff, author of It's Your Ship. He was caption of U.S.S. Benfold (DDG 65), an Arleigh Burke Class guided missile destroyer.

When Abrashoff took command of the destroyer in the late '90s, he found operational readiness low, crew turnover high and morale at rock bottom. The book shares the story of his grassroots leadership campaign that turned things around.

"There are a lot of things that we have no control over today, but one of the things we do have control over is the leadership component," Abrashoff said. "By focusing on our people we were able to reduce our operating expenses by over 25 percent, improve our retention rate from 28 percent to almost 100 percent, our workman compensation cases went from 31 in one year to two the next. Instead of fighting to get off our ship, sailors were now fighting to stay on board."

His techniques included interviewing every member of the crew, leading by example, stressing results rather than standard operating procedure and working to eliminate non-value-added tasks wherever possible. He also worked to improve the "fun factor" on the Benfold using unorthodox methods like sending some the ship's cooks to culinary school and buying a karaoke machine. The results were extraordinary.

"In a very short time, we went from being one of the worst ships in the Pacific fleet to being awarded the trophy for being the best ship in the Pacific fleet, and it was all done because of the crew," Abrashoff said.

IFAI Expo 2003 had more than 70 educational programs covering medical textiles, signs and graphics, safety and protective, textile construction, awning and canopy, sports and recreation, filtration textiles, upholstery, marine fabrication, transportation textiles, equipment and technologies and business and leadership.

Crowds ranged from 40 to over 100 for each educational session.

IFAI Expo 2004 will take place Oct. 27-29 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh and will include two symposiums: Medical Textiles 2004 and the 4th International Conference on Safety & Protective Fabrics.

"We are really excited about Pittsburgh," Warner said. "I think it is going to be a tremendous show. All indications are that we will have more booths and sell out the show floor. We expect a lot of visitors from Europe and Canada."

Chemicals & Dyestuffs Roundup0

Nov. 24, 2003

Milliken & Co. announces anti-stain technology

SPARTANBURG, SC - Milliken & Company has introduced StainSmart™, a dual-action technology offered exclusively through Milliken fabrics that combines the benefits of stain repellence with the added feature of stain release.

Milliken's said its StainSmart provides the "best of both worlds" in stain prevention. Repellence allows most liquid and oil-based spills to bead up and wipe off, thus preventing the majority of soils from initially staining the fabric, the company said. For tough oil-based stains that penetrate and are ground into the fabric - such as certain foods, sunscreen or insect repellent - new release technology allows stains to wash out, Milliken added.

The stain is released during the wash cycle by drawing the water and detergent to and then through the fabric to remove the stain. Innovative stain prevention capabilities last for the life of the fabric, thus enhancing durability and performance.

"Even though there are effective stain-repellent products on the market, let's face it - stains happen. Repelling against stains is only half the battle," said Brenda Burris-Drake, merchandising director for Milliken's woven fabric business. "Milliken is bringing to market the next generation in stain prevention with StainSmart."

StainSmart is available as part of Milliken's new quiet and lightweight, ultra-soft nylon outerwear offering.

Great Lakes unveils stabilizer solutions

CHICAGO - Great Lakes Chemical Corporation announced the launch of Anox™ FiberPlus polymer stabilizer blends, a solution-focused concept for the process stabilization of polypropylene fibers.

Anox FiberPlus polymer stabilizer blends combine Great Lakes' stabilizers into proprietary blends, each offering a unique combination of benefits, in a free-flowing, non-dusting product form that ensures accurate incorporation during fiber manufacturing, the company said. Anox FiberPlus is also available in a powder blend.

Anox FiberPlus blends allow manufacturers of polypropylene fiber grades to achieve good process stability and outstanding color protection, in addition to being resistant to gas fading of the polymer, Great Lakes said. UV stability and long-term heat aging can also be controlled by Anox FiberPlus blends based on the durability and UV protection needs of the finished product, the firm added.

Ciba launches new generation of dyes

Ciba Specialty Chemicals has launched new generation of disperse dyes with ultra-high washfastness.

Ciba® TERASIL® WW disperse dyes create a new state-of-the-art in polyester coloration, the company said. The dyes have exceptionally high washfastness at all temperatures on all polyester fibers, including microfibers, and they blend with cotton, Ciba added.

The high washfastness achieved by TERASIL WW dyes was previously only attainable in disperse dyeing with some red dyes and only at high cost.

But these dyes cover a broad shade spectrum and are cost effective, Ciba added.

DyStar introduces vat, black dyes

Indanthren Blue E-BC is the first vat dye developed by DyStar specifically for the electrochemical dyeing process.

Because of its special finish, the yield of this dye is optimized for this dyeing process. Moreover the dye liquor used in electrochemical dyeing with Indanthren Blue E-BC can be re-used an unlimited number of times and contamination of dyehouse effluent is close to zero, DyStar said.

Indanthren Blue E-BC has the same high fastness properties as other Indanthren dyes and complies with all major ecological standards, the company said.

The electrochemical dyeing process patented by DyStar was developed jointly with the Institute for Textile Chemistry and Textile Physics at the University of Innsbruck in Dornbirn, Austria, and the textile machinery manufacturer Thies GmbH & Co., Coesfeld, Germany.

Meanwhile, Remazol Carbon RGB is the new, high-strength reactive black dye developed by DyStar.

This economical dye has excellent build-up, so reduced amounts are needed to achieve deep shades of black that cannot be obtained with conventional products, the company said. The product also has good wash-off properties and meets high wetfastness and chlorine fastness requirements, DyStar added

Remazol Carbon RGB is suitable for exhaust and pad-dry pad-steam dyeing of cellulosic fibers and cellulosic fiber blends. Properties include good reserving of polyamide fibers and a virtually constant shade under different light sources, the firm noted.

Bayer Chemicals offers stain-resistant product

PITTSBURGH, PA - Bayer Chemicals Corp. announced the development of BAYPROTECT™ SSB, a new patent-pending stain-resistant product specifically formulated for commercial and residential carpets and rugs.

BAYPROTECT SSB is the newest member of Bayer Chemicals' BAYPROTECT family of protective textile finishes. Its stain-blocking chemistry resists stains caused by liquid spills, such as coffee, tea, berry juice and wine, as well as the damaging effects of dry soil.

"With our new BAYPROTECT SSB protective finish, spills are not able to penetrate the fibers and thus do not leave stains," said Dean Bender, director of marketing for Bayer Chemicals' Textile Processing Chemicals business unit. "This minimizes soiling, so carpets and rugs show less wear and need cleaning less often."

Separately, Bayer Chemicals announced that Phoenix Chemical Company of Calhoun, GA, will be the exclusive distributor of Bayer chemical products, providing Bayer's products and services to the wet finishers of denim and apparel in the U.S. garment industry. The agreement excludes garment dyers, who will continue to be supported directly by Bayer.

Pantone redesigns Textile Color System

CARLSTADT, NJ - Pantone, Inc., a global authority on color and provider of professional color standards for the design industries, announced a redesigned and improved version of the PANTONE Textile Color System dubbed PANTONE for fashion and home.

The new system is arranged chromatically by color family for ease of use and features larger format chips with more chips per page.

Grouping colors by family provides greater visualization within a specific color family and gives the user an array of colors that range from light to dark and subtle to bright. Selecting color this way is an intuitive process.

Boehme Filatex taps ADI as distributor

REIDSVILLE, NC - Boehme Filatex, Inc. has designated the ADI Group, USA based in Jersey City, NJ, as Boehme Filatex's exclusive sales representative for its line of textile specialty chemicals to both the ladies' and men's segments of the U.S. hosiery industry.

ADI is a global supplier of dyestuffs to the U.S. textile industry and has a large market share in the hosiery sector. With offices, warehouses and laboratories in New Jersey and North Carolina, ADI now has a strategically located technical sales force who serve the U.S. hosiery industry.

The Boehme Filatex range of textile auxiliaries will complement its offerings.

Based here, Boehme Filatex, Inc. is the U.S. subsidiary of the global Boehme Group and one of the largest suppliers of textile auxiliaries to the industry in North America.

Ross finalizes deal for Burlington Inds.

Nov. 24, 2003

NEW YORK - WL Ross & Co. LLC announced Nov. 11 that it had completed the purchase of Burlington Industries previously approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Newsome, and the simultaneous sale of Lees Carpets to Mohawk Industries, Inc.

CIT Business Credit, Inc. has provided the new company with an $85 million asset-based line of credit to provide Burlington with the letters of credit and working capital it needs.

The Lees carpet division, Burlington's most profitable, was sold to carpet maker Mohawk Industries of Calhoun, GA, for $352 million.

Burlington's debt has been reduced from $800 million at the time it filed bankruptcy to $85 million, according to Wilbur L. Ross, chairman of WL Ross & Co. LLC and now of Burlington.

"Therefore the Burlington employees who have remained loyal during the bankruptcy to the new company no longer have to worry about the solvency of their employer," he said. "Under the new CEO, Joe Gorga, Burlington will combine its strong financial base with the 85th best known brand in the world, technology and efficient operations to become a consolidator of the industry.

"The only other ingredient we need is a sensible future trade policy on the part of the Bush Administration and we have every expectation that this will be forthcoming."

WL Ross & Co. LLC sponsors global private equity and hedge fund investments on behalf of major institutional investors and has committed more than $2 billion of equity since its founding in April 2000.

With operations in the U.S., Mexico and India and a global manufacturing and product development network based in Hong Kong, Burlington is a diversified marketers and manufacturers of soft goods.

Pickin' Cotton

Nov. 24, 2003

China demand, U.S. exports
seen to remain market forces

By Odyll Santos

In the first week of November, the U.S. cotton futures market fell back substantially from the contract highs reached in October amid enthusiasm over Chinese demand for cotton. But demand in China and the strength of U.S. exports to that country and to other destinations are expected to continue to be a force in the market in the coming weeks.

In its November 6 export sales report, USDA said net sales of upland cotton were 275,800 running bales for the week ended October 30, with sales to China of 141,700 running bales. Shipments totaled 130,200 running bales, with 22,700 to China. Net sales of pima cotton totaled 36,200 running bales, mainly to China at 11,300 running bales, and Indonesia at 6,000. Pima shipments were 10,200 running bales, most headed to Pakistan.

The net sales figure for upland cotton appeared impressive, but they paled when compared to the whopping 1.4 million running bales reported for the previous week. Net upland sales for the week ended October 30 were 81 percent below the prior week's sales and 56 percent below the 4-week average, USDA said.

Still, while there was disappointment among some market participants, observers believe U.S. export strength will continue, and China will remain a major customer. Mississippi cotton marketing specialist O.A. Cleveland noted that sales reported during the trading week that ended the month of October were made "during the time that December (futures) made it (to a) life-of-contract high between 83.00 and 84.80 cents (per pound), some eight cents ago."

Cotton price declines saw aggressive export sales made to several countries, particularly China, indicating that demand remains substantial. That helped support cotton prices, with December futures trading between 75 cents and 77 cents per pound. Cleveland noted that most sales were being made for near-term delivery, indicating that there continues to be an immediate need for cotton among mills worldwide. Adding support to the market was increasing interest in lower-grade U.S. growths, including strict low middling 1 1/16-inch cotton.

As of October 30, outstanding U.S. upland cotton sales totaled about 4.5 million running bales, while pima sales were 181,600 running bales. Accumulated upland shipments were 1.7 million running bales, while pima shipments were 71,200 running bales. USDA expects combined upland and pima exports at 12 million 480-pound bales, or about 12.5 million running bales, for the year. Sales at this point of the season are ahead of sales at the same time last year.

Meanwhile, the supply/demand situation in China also has been evident in world cotton prices in the past month. A cut in China's crop size and the need to import more cotton were reflected in the Cotlook A Index, the average of the world's lowest priced cotton growths, which soared in October. The index rose to 80 cents per pound, up 13 cents and its highest level since September 1997, according to the International Cotton Advisory Committee, a research organization based in Washington, in its monthly cotton news release for November. During the first three months of the 2003-04 marketing season, cotton prices rose 18 cents and averaged 66 cents per pound.

ICAC estimated Chinese production at 5 million tons, or about 23 million 480-pound bales. That is 400,000 tons, or 1.8 million bales, less than projected at the start of October, as adverse weather in China caused yields to decline to an estimated 1,000 kilograms per hectare, 15 percent less than the yield in 2002-03. In October, USDA estimated the Chinese crop at 25.5 million bales.

ICAC expects Chinese cotton use to rise more slowly than projected earlier amid rising prices. It estimated usage at 6.5 million tons, or 29.9 million 480-pound bales, compared with 6.3 million tons, or 28.9 million bales, in the past season. Net imports are projected to increase to 1.15 million tons (5.3 million bales) from 520,000 tons (2.4 million bales) in 2002-03. In October, USDA pegged Chinese usage at 30.4 million 480-pound bales and imports at 4.3 million bales.

Despite the Chinese crop cut, ICAC still expects 2003-04 world cotton production to rise above the 2002-03 level, as losses in China were mostly offset by increased production in South America and West Africa. Global production is expected to reach 20.1 million tons (92.3 million 480-pound bales), up 800,000 tons (3.7 million bales) from last year. World consumption this season will be affected by rising prices. ICAC cut global cotton use by 400,000 tons (1.8 million bales) to 20.8 million tons (95.5 million bales), practically unchanged from 2002-03. In its last supply/demand report, USDA pegged the world crop at 94.5 million 480-pound bales, with mill use at 98.5 million.

Mill News

Springs to close plant, consolidate production

FORT MILL, SC - Springs Industries, Inc., announced Nov. 19 that it will close a finishing operation at its Lyman Complex in Lyman, SC, and consolidate production at Grace Complex, the company's primary finishing plant in Lancaster, SC.

The transfer will create about 50 jobs in Lancaster but will reduce employment at Lyman by 200.

The announcement does not affect dyeing, sewing, distribution and other operations at Lyman Complex, which will employ about 800 people when the finishing and printing departments begin phasing out January 3 and permanently close by March 1.

"A decision that costs employees their jobs is the hardest announcement we have to make, but competition in our industry is fierce," said Jeff Nigh, senior vice president of manufacturing for the company's bedding business. "Springs has to reduce costs and operate as efficiently as possible in order to improve our business."

Nigh said consolidating the two finishing plants into one site will improve flexibility and enable Grace to produce bedding fabrics at a lower cost. Only a portion of Lyman's equipment will be needed to meet production demand at the Grace plant, he said.
Job openings at Lyman, Grace and other Springs facilities will be offered to employees affected by the announcement.

The Lyman facility was built in 1924 and Springs acquired the plant complex in 1985. The Grace facility began operating in 1948.


WestPoint to lay off 300 at Lanier plant

WEST POINT, GA - Bankrupt WestPoint Stevens announced Nov. 18 that it will lay off about 300 people at its Lanier Plant in Valley, AL.

The company said it is curtailing operations there as it aligns its capacity with other WestPoint Stevens facilities better equipped to produce the sheeting styles currently in demand.

Affected associates will be placed on leave of absence or, where possible, offered employment at other WestPoint Stevens facilities in the area as the company decides on a future course for the facility, the company said.

"Today's intense global competition forces us to be very proactive in focusing our manufacturing on the most cost-efficient production of the styles most in demand," said Robert R. "Bobby" Lanier, vice president of Bed Products Manufacturing.
"Lanier Plant is an excellent facility that can possibly be well-used for other purposes, but unfortunately it is equipped to run styles that are no longer in demand," he added. "With the more modern machinery that we have at other facilities, it makes the most sense to focus our capacity on these plants."

Lanier Plant, opened in 1967, is one of two plants under the same roof. Its sister plant, Carter, was converted from sheeting to towel production in 2002.

Separately, WPS said it lost $12.8 million, or 26 cents per diluted share, in the third quarter compared with a net loss of $16.6 million, or 33 cents, in the same period last year. The loss before taxes was $16 million compared with a loss before taxes in 2002 of $25.9 million.

Net sales decreased 3 percent to $445.2 million compared with $460.5 million a year ago.
Sales declined primarily from a reduction in the company's mill store sales as a result of restructuring initiatives that have reduced the total number of retail stores to 38 from 59 in the year ago period, WPS said. To a lesser extent, the company also experienced a slight decline in its bedding related products due to ongoing competitive pricing pressure.

Editorial

Nov. 24, 2003

Stuffed with thanks ...

By Devin Steele

These days, the turkeys are wearing disguises - and we're not talking about Saddam or Osama. So, as you prepare to gobble up Big Bird, here's a heaping helping of some of the people and things we're thankful for this year:

The U.S. government, for passing this litmus test and giving the textile industry something to cheer about this Thanksgiving. (Don't worry, though - with bras included in the China safeguard measure, that doesn't mean the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show will be canceled next year. Cross our heart.) The domestic carpet and rug industry, still rolling out good news. Murata Machinery's Bill Gray, who always greets us with a big grin and an open palm. Succulent Charisma® towels, which last a lifetime, even if its maker doesn't. The phrase, "lunch will be served after the machine demonstration."

Sultex USA's Fritz Legler, a Swiss by birth who loves living in this country and maintains confidence in its textile industry. "Body-responsive" fibers. STA - large and in charge. Having known former NCMA lobbyist Dennis Julian. Ear plugs, which muffle but sweeten the music of textiles emerging from high-tech machinery.

ITMA '03 - good show, 'ol chaps. Fellow Starbucks addict Mike Smith of Eltex of America. The cotton-fresh scent of a carding room. Steady Robert DuPree, who always keeps us posted on Beltway happenings from his crow's nest at the American Textile Manufacturers Institute. Co-location, co-location, co-location - a positive trend in the trade show business.

"Made in USA" hang-tags on the uniforms and textile supplies of our fighting boys and girls. Jack Thompson, a friend who put his heart and soul into Fieldcrest Cannon/Pillowtex for 63 years before being shown the door with 8,650 of his fellow employees. The exuberance of product pitch men and women, who understand the value of persistence. Sonoco Crellin's Pete Papajohn, the lean, mean smiling machine. Allen Gant Jr. - a strong industry voice.

The words, "sliver," "greige" and "sewer," always pronounced wrong by people outside this industry. Getting an e-mail from Louis P. Batson's Marie Cox, who loves to share photos of her growing bundle of joy. Having broken bread with humanitarian Aaron Feuerstein and his wife. Carolon Company's Larry Oates, for making that dinner possible. Unity among industry brethren, finally.

The Industrial Fabrics Association International - surviving and thriving. Greenwood Mills' Doyle Kidd, who shared with us a must-read book for every American. (Sorry, but we can't reveal its title, for reasons of multinational security.) Antimicrobials. The American Textile Machinery Association's Sue Denston, a real pro. The team at STI (Specialty Textile Interiors), figuring out how to get it done in a tough environment.

Alvin Ellison, Raul Thomas and Harold Hoke - some of Uster's finest. The Internet, which brings the world to our cluttered desktop. The courage of Carolina Mills' George Moretz, who decided to go beyond the call to help this beleaguered industry by running for Congress. The bed in a bag concept. WestPoint Foundry & Machine Co.'s Sharron Farrar - who runs a tight ship with contagious effervescence and a helpful spirit.

Lang Ligon & Co.'s Harrell & Richard Ligon - brothers who go out of their way to treat us like one. The burgeoning American Textile Hall of Fame. William Giblin of Tweave, Inc., the National Textile Association chairman who communicates its messages with effectiveness and a smooth-as-molasses voice. Real "Jims" of our industry - Chesnutt, Cowan and Lemons. And another Jim, retired Sonoco exec Jim Money, who along with Auburn prof Roy Broughton helped STN leave its footprints all over the ITMA show floor.

Wilbur Ross, who has put his faith and his money in the future of this industry. Expansion announcements, sparse as they are. Otto Zollinger Inc.'s Rita Zollinger, whose positive outlook and friendly nature can brighten any room. Ditto Parkdale's Lee Thomas. Industry consultant Alasdair Carmichael, a walking encyclopedia of useful industry information.

And finally, fashion shows by Picanol (or anyone else).

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