This paper, 'ASEAN in transformation: textiles, clothing and footwear: refashioning the future', examines how technology is transforming the textile, clothing and footwear (TCF) sector in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The TCF sector is a significant contributor to employment and trade for a number of ASEAN Member States. In particular, the sector provides over nine million jobs, particularly to young women.
The study highlights that the TCF sector is undergoing significant technological transformation, especially as multinational retailers and apparel brands aggressively innovate and pilot disruptive technologies such as 3D printing, robotics and automation which bring production to move closer to market. Trends in reshoring is already emerging in the footwear sector and will soon occur for the clothing sector upon introduction of automated sewing machines that enable automation of the most difficult part of apparel manufacturing. Moreover, players in ASEAN's TCF sector need to be mindful of the changing nature of production in China which remains the top TCF manufacturing country in the world. These movements will result in decline in export growth for the ASEAN region and ultimately affect the number of workers required.
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