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Wool Textile Industry
Woolen textile industry is much smaller than cotton textile industry as world production of wool is only about 15% of cotton. The woolen industry is concentrated in the developed countries of the mid-latitudes as they need woolen cloth in winter. The major producers and exporters of wool, such as Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa do not have large centres of textile industry. They are sparsely populated countries and demand for cloth is less. Manufacture of cloth has to depend on changing trends in fashion in the consuming centres of Europe.
The woolen industry is much smaller and less widely distributed. Two-third of world's woolen mill capacity and production are in Europe. Other important manufacturing countries are the United States, Russia and Japan. Russia is the world's largest producer of woolen cloth.
The chief requirements and the main factors for the development of the woolen industry are
(a) Plentiful supply of raw wool. This may be possible by local supplies or by imports.
(b) Plentiful supply of soft and clean water. This is essential for washing the natural grease from the raw wool.
The presence of soft-water streams plays a very important part in the localization of the woolen industry. Wool manufacturing centres are mostly situated on some riverside location.
(c) Skilled labour and technical efficiency. The woolen industry is rather complex and complicated. Skill, experience, tradition and technical efficiency are very important factors.
(d) Nearness to power supplies. It may be coal, petroleum, natural gas or hydro-electricity.
(e) Nearness to market for woolen goods. The woolen clothes are largely worn in temperate and cold countries and are the principal markets for this type of goods.
Wool is exported in grease. Almost the full weight of the raw wool enters into finished products in some form or other. And therefore, like cotton textile, the woolen industry is also footloose as far as the raw material is concerned. Its localization is not necessarily tied to the source of raw material.
On the other hand, five countries of the Southern Hemisphere, namely, Australia, New Zealand, the Union of South Africa. Argentina and Uruguay produce most of world's exportable wool. But these countries manufacture less than 5 per cent of the woolen fabrics. Even for foreign market, sizable woolen industry could have developed in these wool-producing countries especially in Australia and the Union of South Africa where there are coal and considerable manufacturing industries. But unlike cotton textile industry, there has been no shift of woolen industry to the raw material areas. This is because wool manufacturing is more complicated and required greater skill and experience than does cotton.
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