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Denim fabric: global trade and leading players, May-June 2007
published in Issue 129, May-June 2007
The continuing appeal of denim apparel, especially jeans, has ensured that the demand for denim fabric remains robust. In turn, robust demand has resulted in sizeable trade flows in denim fabric across markets. In 2005 world denim fabric exports totalled US$4.3 bn, and between 2001 and 2005 the value of global denim fabric exports grew at an average annual rate of 5.0%.
The top ten exporting countries in 2005 were China, Hong Kong, the USA, Italy, Turkey, Japan, India, Brazil, Spain and Pakistan. Together, these countries accounted for as much as 83% of world denim fabric exports. The major denim fabric importing countries during the same year were Mexico, Hong Kong, Turkey, Tunisia, Italy, the USA, China, Morocco and Colombia.
Chinese denim fabric exporters, as well as achieving the greatest success in penetrating overseas markets, have also achieved rapid growth. Between 2001 and 2005 their sales to foreign markets rose by an average of 18% a year—which was almost four times the growth rate for global exports of denim fabric as a whole.
The US denim fabric industry, which at one time dominated world production, has been witnessing a continuing decline in sales and profitability for a number of years. This is largely because of competition from low cost countries as well as falling domestic demand. Two US companies used to hold leading positions in the global denim fabric industry, namely Cone Mills (now known as Cone Denim) and Swift Galey. However, faced with growing competition from foreign manufacturers, higher production costs within the USA and shrinking internal demand for their products, US denim fabric companies have been facing severe financial problems which have forced them to cut output or close their US-based production facilities. Instead, as a survival measure, they have set up manufacturing joint ventures and relocated their operations to low cost locations where denim fabric can be produced at more competitive costs.
Table of Contents
Denim Fabric: Global Trade and Leading Players
Denim’s Growing Popularity
Global Trade in Denim Fabric
Exports of Denim Fabric by Leading Exporting Countries
Imports of Denim Fabric by Leading Importing Countries
Internationalisation of the US Denim Fabric Industry
Decline in the Competitiveness of the Denim Fabric Industry in the EU
Profiles of 12 Denim Producers Outside North America
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