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Trade and trade policy: the world's leading clothing exporters, 1st quarter 2008
published in Issue 1, 1st Quarter 2008
Global clothing exports were worth US$311 bn in 2006. Of this total, the world’s top 15 clothing exporters accounted for 82%, or US$256 mn.
Geographically, Asian countries achieved the strongest gains, especially in exports to the US and the EU. Indeed, Asian exports to the EU surged by 39% in 2006 while those to the US increased by 15%. Intra-Asian trade, meanwhile, rose by 11%. Elsewhere, Intra-North American trade suffered the steepest drop, while exports from South and Central America to North America also fell. In terms of individual country, China became the largest exporter in 2006 with over US$95 bn worth of exports, which represented a 30% share of the global total. As a result, the EU fell to second position, followed by Hong Kong, Turkey, India, Bangladesh, Mexico, Indonesia, the USA, Vietnam, Romania, Thailand, Pakistan, Morocco and Tunisia. China is attempting to slow down the rate at which its exports are growing. In doing this, the government has implemented a number of policies, including a reduced tax rebate on clothing exports.
By contrast, players in the other largest clothing exporting countries have introduced developments to encourage export growth. The EU has made closer ties with CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) and Mediterranean rim countries. Turkish entrepreneurs have shifted production to former Soviet Central Asian countries and North Africa. The Indian government has introduced a new fiveyear plan which, it hopes, will help it to achieve growth of 16% per annum. Bangladeshi officials have continued to lobby the US government for tariff-free access to the US market. The Indonesian industry has set up joint initiatives with the US and Japan. Many US firms have stepped up re-exports of garments previously imported into the USA. The Vietnamese government has introduced a new fiveyear plan, which aims to increase exports by 20% a year. Romania has become a hub for clothing trade. Thai exporters have built closer ties with other countries within Asia. In doing so, they have recorded strong growth in exports to Singapore, Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia, and have signed an economic partnership agreement with Japan. The Pakistani government has outlined its strategy for the 2007/08 year. Meanwhile, Morocco and Tunisia have continued to rely on preferential customs tariffs with the EU.
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