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China makes debut at NY Textiles Show

NEW YORK — While home textiles imported from China have long been part of the New York Home Textiles show at the booths of American companies, the Chinese companies that produce those goods have not.

Until this year.

For the first time in the show's 19-year history, Chinese home textile manufacturers were sponsored by their government to attend the show as exhibitors in their own pavilion.

Less than a dozen Chinese manufacturers — five, to be exact — made it to the show and comprised the small Chinese pavilion, tucked in the far northwest corner of the Javits Center. But those who did attend were excited and grateful to be included this year.

"We've been doing business with Chinese wholesalers in Los Angeles for a while now, but here we hope to expand and take orders from new retailers," said Hou Chun Shui, manager of Shouguang Artex Group, a Shandong-based manufacturer of table linens and bedding products. "I want to extend my business in the U.S. and being here [at the textile show] helps me do that."

Hou's attraction to the show comes not only with hopes of expanding distribution but also with the opportunity to generate more income for his company.

"The difference between working with Chinese companies and working with American companies is that in the U.S. your profit margin is a little higher," Hou said.

While Hou's company currently works mostly with wholesalers, he said he hopes to become a direct supplier to American retailers.

Liu Cheng is the project manager for the exhibition affairs division of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, Shandong Sub-Council China Chamber of International Commerce. He is responsible for promoting attendance to the show to Chinese home textile manufacturers based in Shandong province.

Liu said that of the 12 companies that applied to attend the show, five companies and eight people were approved.

"Many companies wanted to attend, but the visa process is not very easy. Actually, the visa situation is awful," Liu said. "I'm going to make sure that this show is good for Chinese companies. Then I'll determine if we should return next year. But I think so. I think we will have more people apply."

Ying Yi, manager of the Sanlian Group Co. based in Jinan, thinks that with the presence of Chinese companies like his attending the show this year and in the future, competition will increase with American importers.

"Asian textiles are well suited to the American market — that's been proven already," Yi said. "But the American companies don't want us to compete with them because they, too, are selling products they imported from China. With us going direct, it creates more competition for them."

Yi's company imports and exports table linens, bedding, bath and some apparel to retailers and wholesalers alike throughout Europe and parts of South America. But in the U.S., Yi only has wholesale clients.

"Hopefully, here I'll find new customers, know new customers," Ying said. "I think that we understand the American market more and more as time goes by, as do the American people understand us more and more. So it's important for us to be here and create new partnerships."

Isabella Yang of the Shandong Welltrade manufacturing company of table, bedding, beach towel and apparel collections said that most of her company's business with the U.S. is conducted through a Hong Kong-based agent.

"We've been doing this for so many years — more than 20 — that now we are trying to see if it's possible to do business directly with American department stores or importers in the U.S. We are hoping the World Trade Organization will lift the quota to U.S. and European countries, which means more business for us. The U.S. has strict regulations."

Yang is already working with Jay Franco and Franco Manufacturing through an agent.

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