Leaders of textile and apparel firms from the ten member states of ASEAN met with buyers for global brands at the second annual Source ASEAN Full Service Alliance (SAFSA) forum at the Plaza Athénée in Bangkok, September 29-30, 2011. Keynote speaker Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary General of ASEAN, called SAFSA “a model of economic integration of ASEAN” and said that it is not only keeping the sector competitive but raising the bar for other sectors.
SAFSA is a 40-member strong private sector alliance formed by the USAID-funded VALUE Project managed by Nathan Associates Inc. The goal of SAFSA is to make ASEAN the world’s premier supplier of full-service textile and garment products. It links independent and sometimes geographically dispersed factories into “virtual vertical factories,” or VVFs, that give apparel buyers the reliable, integrated, and competitively-priced full-service packages they demand. VVFs also advance economic integration by forging cross-border business linkages.
According to Nathan Associates’ Mr. Michael Blakeley, director of the VALUE Project, SAFSA synthesizes the strengths of textile mills and garment factories in ASEAN countries to offer fast, cost-effective, single-point service. “Apparel buyers increasingly prefer to contract with vertically integrated factories—which are common in China—to reduce cost and delivery times. ASEAN has all the service capabilities but they are dispersed across factories and even borders. VVFs that integrate services, between, say, a textile mill in Thailand and a garment factory in Cambodia, create the streamlined supply chain necessary for competitiveness.”
Global brands and retailers, such as Polo Ralph Lauren, Benetton, and Target—who are members of SAFSA—attended the forum to deepen relationships with VVFs and set the stage for future business transactions. More than 60 people attended the forum and SAFSA members held nearly 70 business-to-business meetings.
Those meetings resulted in 16 MOUs for business that could amount to millions of dollars.
The forum was hosted by Thailand’s Department of Export Promotion of the Ministry of Commerce, the National Federation of Thai Textile Industries (AFTEX Thailand), and the VALUE project.