Western Australia's clothing and textile industry is now beating Chinese competition and securing new markets in Singapore and Japan.
Premier Carmen Lawrence said today the achievement was a direct result of new management attitudes which had seen the industry give top priority to design, quality service and innovation.
"The result is that one State-based company has just out-bid four overseas manufacturers - including one from China - to secure a major new contract to make shirts for police," the Premier said.
"At the same time another Western Australian company has begun exporting safety footwear to Singapore and started a test marketing program in Japan."
Dr Lawrence was speaking at Comfortwear Footwear Pty Ltd where she announced that extra Commonwealth funding was to be made available to WA's clothing, textile and footwear (TCF) companies to help them gain the management skills needed to become more internationally competitive.
The Premier said Comfortwear was a prominent example of where new attitudes to product development were securing the company an important niche in the national and international market.
Comfortwear had developed a new type of industrial safety boot which incorporated all the looks and comforts of a light weight `sports' shoe.
"It is this shoe which is now selling so well in Singapore, and which looks like securing an important niche in the Japanese market," she said.
Dr Lawrence said the company which had secured the police order - Joseph Dahdah - had done so because of its commitment to achieving an internationally recognised level of quality - and its ability to meet delivery deadlines.
"Eighteen months ago a similar contract was awarded to a Chinese company because our local companies could not match the bid.
"Now all that is changing. Local TCF companies have begun to demonstrate they can withstand international competition - and even match that competition in some of the world's toughest markets."
Dr Lawrence said the new assistance program would see $154,000 made available to support management programs for TCF companies under the Commonwealth/State NIES scheme.
Under the new arrangements eligible companies would be able to obtain grants to cover 75 per cent of the cost of appointing approved management consultants.
The consultants would provide NIES-approved programs covering such areas as marketing, design, and strategic planning.