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China to focus on cocoon silk industry

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2014-01-29 16:45:00 – China

Cocoon silk industry is a traditional specialty industry of China. Since recent years, along with rising production cost and sluggish market growth at home and abroad, prosperity of cocoon silk industry has gradually faded away. Fang Aiqing, Vice Minister of Ministry of Commerce, has decided to promote healthy development of cocoon silk industry, as cocoon silk is a livelihood oriented industry relates to ten millions peasant households and millions industrial workers.

Fang, will be optimizing and innovating the existing business mode, quickening the pace to eliminate outdated technical equipment and improving the overall production and operation of cocoon silk.

Cocoon silk industry has a long history and profound cultural deposits. In recent years, China's cocoon silk industry has been expanding steadily, silkworm cocoon, raw silk, and greige accounts for 70 percent, 70 percent and 45 percent of the world output respectively. As a traditional bulk export commodity of China, raw silk and greige export accounts for around 90 percent and 60 percent of international trade volume. China holds firmly the first place of world's cocoon silk production and export and plays an important role in the world cocoon silk market.

However, "large silk country" doesn't mean "silk power". Under the background of micro-economy downturn, Chinese cocoon silk industry, which is large but not strong, is confronting with great challenge. Being family based, sericulture production in China is of small scale, which therefore leads to slow progress of mechanization, electrification and standardization. At the same time, most of the cocoon silk producers are small and medium sized enterprises. Cocoon silk is a completely competitive industry, it has a low entry threshold and is easy to exit; enterprises are suffering low profit, financing difficulty, and almost have no surplus funds for research and development. Li Long, Deputy Director of Sericultural Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science, said that due to the lack of products with high added value, profiting ability of Chinese silk enterprises, after losing cost advantage, has been going down increasingly. The survival is getting tougher and tougher.

Scale disadvantage goes with insufficient technological innovation. At present, R&D input of silk enterprises above designated scale accounts for only 0.25 percent of sales revenue, far below 5 percent of developed countries' textile industry. Moreover, scientific research capacity is weak, professional education is obsolescent and innovative public service platform is lacking, thus the overall independent innovation ability is weak.

The weakness of marketing mode is an important part for the development of cocoon silk industry. Fang Aiqing reckons that currently domestic sales and export ratio of silk is about 1:5, the top five silk export markets have accounted for over half of the total export. The market is highly concentrated, market mode is outdated and network is not complete, which has therefore led to disconnection between production and market and weak market control ability of enterprises.

In order to promote the healthy and sustainable development of cocoon silk industry, in October 2013, eight ministries and departments including Ministry of Commerce, National Development and Reform Commission, and Ministry of Science and Technology jointly formulated and released Opinions on Further Promoting and Healthy Development of the Cocoon Silk Industry, which clearly defined multiple targeted and workable support policies and measures on "reinforcing fiscal support and improving investment and financing mechanism".

Fang Aiqing said that the next step is to promote regional coordination and professional specialization and gradually form a new industrial cluster pattern by means of adjusting regional distribution. Eastern areas will actively exert advantages in terms of talents, technology, management, capital and market, form design and R&D center, terminal products production and trading base of silk brands, and make the industry more competent and competitive. Middle and western areas will continue to improve the concentration of silkworm production and processing, reinforce the popularization and application of new technology and equipment, improve and optimize the industrial chain.

Fang Aiqing also mentioned to energetically expand domestic silk consumer market, consolidate traditional market share and actively develop emerging market by optimizing and innovating business marketing mode, developing e-commerce, establishing professional marketing network and modern logistics system. Competitive enterprises should "go global", master the trend of international silk fashions and the change of consumer demand to satisfy consumption needs.

As for the scientific innovation, Fang Aiqing proposed that the next step is to deepen the scientific research system reform of silk industry, and establish a new enterprise-centered, market-oriented and production-education-research combined scientific innovation system. Accelerate the construction of silk technology innovation system and public service platform, explore and establish strategic alliance for technology innovation of silk industry, conquer key common technologies by concentrating advantageous resources such as talents, capital and R&D, develop efficient and intelligent key production equipment and functional silk products, popularize advanced production technology, accelerate the elimination of outdated technology and equipment, and improve the overall production level of silk industry.

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