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Beyond the Bale : June 2014
17 OFF-FARM G'day Vietnam! The delegation of Vietnamese textile manufacturers on their self-funded trip to Australia as part of AWI's "Out of Vietnam" project. As part of the AWI "Out of Vietnam" project, 20 Vietnamese textile manufacturers visited Australia in March to see first- hand how wool is grown, tested and traded, as well as assessing for themselves the quality of the fibre. Comprising sweater, sock, underwear and accessory manufacturers, the delegation visited farms, testing houses and an auction. They also had meetings with a number of Australian brands and retailers, providing an opportunity to show garments produced with Australian wool. All delegates came to Australia at their own expense. AWI's "Out of Vietnam" project was launched just under two years ago and is aimed at reducing the Australian wool industry's reliance on China, where more than 75 per cent of Australian wool is currently exported. In addition, the project is creating new business opportunities for the fibre and today about 50 Vietnamese manufacturing companies are participating in the project. At the start of the project, none of the Vietnamese companies were familiar with making garments from wool, with them largely using cotton, acrylic and polyester. FAST FACTS l A delegation of 20 Vietnamese textile manufacturers visited Australia in March to see how Merino wool is produced. l The self-funded trip was part of AWI's "Out of Vietnam" project, which is creating new business opportunities in a previously relatively untouched market for wool. l There are currently about 50 Vietnamese manufacturing companies that are participating in the project. AWI's General Manger Product Development and Commercialisation, Jimmy Jackson said, "Our value proposition to the Vietnamese companies was that we will teach them firstly how to produce higher value products made from Australian wool, and then we will introduce them to potential new customers who can pay a higher price. Since the project began this is exactly what we have done. "As a first stage, our technicians visited the factories in Vietnam to teach them about what yarns to buy, how to dye wool, and finish fabrics or garments made from it. Once the companies were technically confident we then embarked on the second stage, where six months ago we arranged a visit to Vietnam of a delegation of Japanese retail buyers to meet our new manufacturing partners. This was replicated last month with a visit to Vietnam by Korean retail buyers." During the visit to Australia, Saigon Wool and Trading Corporation chief executive, Mde Vu Thanh Thuy, said AWI had assisted her in how to make garments from wool, particularly how to finish the garments after knitting, after which AWI introduced her to potential new customers, and today she has started exporting wool garments to Japan. "I am hoping to gain a Woolmark licence and use more Australian wool. Business is looking encouraging with some orders for school jumpers including an order from Australia," she added. Although the focus of the project is on producing wool garments for export, largely due to the warm climate in Vietnam, hence the project name "Out of Vietnam", Mde Doan Thi Bich Ngoc, the CEO of Canifa which is both a manufacturer and a leading fashion apparel retailer with a chain of 30 stores in and around Hanoi in North Vietnam, said "We decided to launch a range of wool sweaters last winter, and these sold very well, and now we are in discussion with AWI about increasing and expanding the range for next winter". Mr Jackson added, "The next step in the setting up of wool manufacturing supply chains in Vietnam is establishing local manufacturers of wool yarns, and we are already in talks with both Vietnamese companies and a number of potential foreign investors about establishing wool spinning plants in Vietnam. Then the focus will be on raw wool scouring and top-making, enabling greasy wool to be sold and exported directly from Australia". June 2014 BEYOND THE BALE