Business Envoy May 2022
Australia boosting sustainable cotton exports to Vietnam
There is great potential for expanding exports of Australian cotton to Vietnam, with Australia's global cotton output forecast to exceed $3.6 billion in 2022-23. Australia is one of the top five cotton suppliers to Vietnam's billion-dollar industry, with Australian exports of cotton in 2021 worth approximately $812 million.
Vietnamese born and Australian raised, Fashion Enterprise founder Rodney Thanh learned to sew from his parents before enrolling in design studies at Melbourne's Box Hill Institute. He went on to establish Fashion Enterprise in 2010 with the aim of helping Australian clients develop and source quality manufacturing products in Vietnam and China.
In 2022, Fashion Enterprise aims to process five million kilograms of carbon-positive cotton with FibreTrace technology, translating to an estimated retail value of $214 million. Of this, 60 per cent of the cotton would return to Australia as finished garments for local brands such as Cue, Veronika Maine, RM Williams, Country Road and Kookai and 40 per cent will be used by international brands such as Reiss, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein and Maggie Marilyn. This is being driven by strong interest from big clothing brands to use more sustainable and ethical cotton.
By partnering with Australian company Good Earth Cotton – producer of one of the world's first carbon-positive cotton products that sequesters more carbon than it emits – Fashion Enterprise plans to increase the processing volume of carbon-positive cotton in Vietnam to 16 million kilograms by 2023. Fashion Enterprise is also looking to establish the first merino wool spinning factory in Ho Chi Minh City applying FibreTrace technology. Longer term, Fashion Enterprise will focus its efforts on working exclusively with sustainable fibres that contain unique digital markers, allowing real time traceability at each stage of the supply chain.
Supply chains between Australia and Vietnam are set to become even more closely entwined under the Australia-Vietnam Enhanced Economic Engagement Strategy. The implementation of the Strategy will unlock mutually beneficial opportunities, across key sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing, so that companies like Fashion Enterprise and Good Earth Cotton can work together to offer more sustainable product lines to customers in both countries.
Australia is a top five cotton supplier to Vietnam's billion-dollar manufacturing industry and there is great potential to expand exports further. Companies, such as Fashion Enterprise, are quickly adapting to provide more sustainable and ethical product lines to their customers, providing exciting opportunities for Australia's cotton industry.
Robyn Mudie, Australia's Ambassador to Vietnam
“By purchasing carbon-positive Australian cotton from Good Earth Cotton and implementing FibreTrace technology, we offer real-time verification of the yarn, fabrics and garments which is increasingly important to our clients.”
Rodney Thanh, Founder of Fashion Enterprise.