Demand for functional and eco-friendly textiles has increased in both the clothing and household textiles market segments. In recent years, the cotton-spinning industry has focused its R&D on improving manufacturing processes and efficiencies through equipment automation. Taiwan's textile producers have also developed successful combinations of natural and synthetic fibers to meet customers' demands for new high-performance, functional and high value-added products.
By 2012, Taiwan has emerged as one of the world's major suppliers of high-quality man-made fabrics. Taiwan's textile industry is now comprised of 4,375 textile manufacturers; combined with related companies, the industry now employs a total of 144,977 people. In 2012, their production reached NT$452.5 billion (US$15.3 billion) in value. That same year, the gross export and import values for Taiwan's textiles and apparel industry were US$11.8 billion and US$3.3 billion, respectively, for a total trade surplus of US$8.5 billion, ranking it fourth among all sectors in Taiwan in terms of trade surplus amount.
Taiwan's textile industry is utilizing novel technology to produce high value-added and best-quality products. This has not only led to raising the high-quality image of Taiwan textile products, but has also widened Taiwan's competitive edge over neighboring countries. Taiwan's textile industry is heavily export-oriented. In each of the past 12 years, more than 70% of Taiwan's total textile production value was exported.
Taiwan's textile industry is also undergoing developments to innovate various high value-added materials as a means of creating product differentiation. Facing the twin effects of over-supply and higher energy prices, the industry acts prudently by concentrating its innovation efforts on developing functional applications, including promoting the use of eco-fibers, as well as developing attractive, high-quality products.
With the aim of assisting Taiwan's textile industry in upgrading and modernizing, the government has set a mid-term strategic goal for the industry to increase its production value to NT$600 billion by 2020 from NT$482.3 billion in 2010. The government is also encouraging the industry to continue implementing a number of structural adjustments. In order to help the textile industry achieve the goals set for 2020, the government has developed three plans: the Double Production Value for Industrial Textiles Plan, the Alliance for Developing and Promoting Functional Textiles Plan and the Taiwan Fashion Promotion Plan. The three plans aim to promote Taiwan's textiles in the international market and help the textile industry develop more high value-added products in a sustainable manner.