Taiwan man-made fiber industry outlook

The man-made fiber industry is the source of the general textile industry in Taiwan. Man-made fibers are made from synthetic raw materials in the upstream petrochemical industry and link to textiles, dyeing, printing, finishing, garments and related applications in the downstream sector, thereby forming a consistent and huge production system. This is the main reason why the textile industry has a strong international competitiveness, and also serves as an important source for trade surplus in Taiwan.

At present, not only is Taiwan’s man-made fiber industry technologically mature, but can also be imbued with various types of functions, thus allowing man-made fibers to surpass natural fibers. Therefore, man-made fibers have become a highly competitive sub-sector in Taiwan’s textile industry and the foundation of Taiwan’s textile industry. According to the information provided by Japan Chemical Fibers Association, the output volume of man-made fibers in Taiwan was 1.712 million metric tons in 2017, which constituted 2.6% of the global output volume of man-made fiber, making Taiwan the fourth largest man-made fiber-producing country in the world. Of all types of man-made fibers, the output volume of polyester yarn was 788,000 tons, the third highest in the world, whereas the output volume of nylon fiber was 295,000 tons, also the third highest in the world; thus, Taiwan occupies a vital position in the production of both types of man-made fibers.

However, man-made fibers in Taiwan are not produced for direct export. Man-made fibers are first processed before they are made into fabrics for export. Therefore, the man-made fiber industry plays the most important role in the textile raw materials. It not only has huge output value, but also possesses a high industrial relevance. In 2018, the output value of Taiwan’s man-made fiber industry has reached NT$110 billion, and could even drive the entire textile industry to create an annual output value of approximately NT$350 billion after implementing multi-layer processing in the textile industry.

In 2018, the daily production capacity of polyester yarn in Taiwan was 2935 metric tons, which constituted 47.9% of the total production capacity of man-made fiber, demonstrating a decrease of 56 metric tons from 2017; whereas the daily production capacity of polyester staple fiber in Taiwan was 1919 metric tons, which constituted 31.3% of the total production capacity of man-made fiber; the proportion of polyester fiber production capacity has gradually increased from 72% in 2013 to 79.2% in 2018, which is not only high, but also significantly higher than those of other fiber products. On the other hand, the product of man-made fiber processing in the downstream sector is man-made fiber textured yarn. For many years, the production capacity of man-made fiber textured yarn in Taiwan has been focusing mainly on polyester textured yarn, and has accounted for 87% to 89% of the total production capacity of textured yarn, while the production capacity of nylon textured yarn has only constituted 11% to 13%.

TTRI X Metabolic
The report of “A Circular Vision for Taiwanese Textiles Sector”

According to a material flow analysis performed by Metabolic (2018), Taiwan mainly produces man-made fibers, and is highly dependent on petrochemical materials.

However, Taiwan is a leader in technologies for converting waste into textiles, especially the conversion of consumed PET bottle caps into polyester textiles, thereby activating the transition period toward circular economy.

Therefore, Taiwanese textile manufacturers can utilize man-made fiber manufacturing combined with recycling technologies as the core of research and development to develop the next generation of new green materials.

* Thomas Mason, Erin Kennedy, Eva Gladek(2018), “A Circular Vision for Taiwanese Textiles Sector”, Metabolic, 2018。