Dear Asian Suppliers,
Jingoism is defined as extreme patriotism bordering on the chauvinistic. It's not something many people would accuse me of and it's not the card I'm trying to play here: Just wanted to get that out front as a disclaimer.
That said, let me say it as simply and clearly as I can: Asian suppliers who are turning their back on the American market are making a big mistake. Huge.
Yeah, I know all about the world market and the globalization of the international textiles market. I know the Chinese domestic market is booming and that there are tens of millions - maybe hundreds of millions - of new consumers in China with the spending power to drive business. I know other nations on the Asian continent - and the Indian subcontinent - are coming up fast and will represent huge potential markets for home textiles products.
And I know that Europe represents an easier place to do business for many suppliers who are repelled - even disgusted - with the U.S. obsession with price, often at the sacrifice of quality standards of any kind.
All of those things are true and they must be factored into any international business strategy for companies looking to develop and grow their businesses.
But I know the United States is not going anywhere anytime soon as the prime consuming nation on the planet. As tough as our economy is these days, we are bouncing back better and are more grounded than virtually any other Western nation. The scale of our economy and the purchasing power of the American consumer simply cannot be matched anywhere.
I also know that Western Europe is in many ways more closed to imports than America. That's not going to change.
And as fast as the middle classes are emerging in China and India and elsewhere, it is going to take generations for them to even approach the levels that exist today in the United States. That will eventually happen but not in our business lifetimes.
International suppliers that ignore these facts do so at their own risk. Textiles manufacturing is not going to come back to the United States despite what anybody says or hopes for. The numbers don't work. So, if Asian companies choose not to do business with the United States, American importers will look elsewhere - to South America, Central America and eventually Africa - for product.
Much as many Asian companies learned the business from their American partners, so too will these new players in new places do the same. It's the way it works.
As the worldwide textiles business gathers this week in Frankfurt for Heimtextil, it's critical for companies on both sides of the buying/selling equation to remember how much they need each other.
That's not jingoism. It's just good business.