Quality the key to world wool market
By ELAINE CHAN
CHINA as the biggest wool processor in the world needs to improve the quality of its wool products to become successful on the international stage, says an Australian wool expert.
Dr Ken Whiteley chief of the wool division at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) said it was in Australia's interest to work closely with China to improve the quality of Chinese wool.
China is the biggest importer of Australian wool for its processing and manufacturing industries.
Dr Whiteley said Australia was keen to introduce wool processing and manufacturing technology to China.
''If they wish to make the very fine textile fabric, it is best that they use fine wool,'' he said.
To ensure quality levels, Dr Whiteley said Chinese importers should insist on being given information on grading of the wool they import.
He said he saw fibre diameter measurement as the key to improving the quality of Chinese woollen products.
''If they don't do that they can never process the right quality of wool for the international market,'' Dr Whiteley said.
Fine wool has a diameter ranging from 10 to 14 micrometres but the mainland mainly imports greasy and scoured wool of diameter ranging from 21 to 23 micrometres.
Very fine wool is used specifically for very high quality fabrics.
Meanwhile, the CSIRO has already introduced wool measuring technology to Chinese research institutes in Beijing and Shanghai.
This included the A$100,000 (about HK$537,000) CSIRO-developed Laserscan equipment which measures fibre diameter, and the $50,000 FAST system which assesses the properties of fabrics.
However, Dr Whiteley said a more urgent need for China was to modernise its textile machinery.
To do this, China would need monetary assistance from large international organisations such as the International Monetary Fund, he said.
To date, 60 per cent of China's wool imports come from Australia. Import figures for clean wool during the period July 1992 to March 1993 jumped almost 50 per cent to 80.2 million kilograms.
About 65 per cent of all Australian wool entering China is used domestically, with the major end-uses being for knitwear, menswear fabrics and hand-knitting yarns.
Dr Whiteley said the trading partnership in wool with China was a significant one for Australia.
''Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the ongoing world recession, China has become our number one market,'' he said.
''We see it as the hope of the future. Trade with other countries seems to be static and declining. China has been the most exciting prospect.'' Training sessions with CSIRO have also been organised for the Chinese.
To date, about 20 trainees have been sent to Australia to learn the latest technology in processing wool.