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World textile and apparel trade and production trends, September-October 2007
published in Issue 131, September-October 2007
US clothing demand continued to grow in the first nine months of 2007. Sales through clothing, accessory stores, warehouse clubs and superstores were especially buoyant. But US producers suffered badly. Textile output fell by 7.8% to its lowest level in 25 years in the first eight months of 2007 while clothing plummeted by 30%. As a result, 39,000 jobs were lost during January-September.
The EU trade deficit continued to worsen in 2006—despite a small rise in output—as double digit increases were witnessed in clothing imports from China, Bangladesh, India, Hong Kong and Indonesia. That said, EU exporters have been achieving success in East European markets such as Russia and Ukraine. Also, China became the tenth biggest market for EU textile exporters in 2006 as sales to the country grew by 20.8%.
Chinese exports surged in the first eight months of 2007 as sales to the EU rose by 21% and those to the USA increased by 28%—despite being restricted by quotas. Chinese imports, meanwhile, grew more slowly. As a result, domestic output was up significantly, as were added value and investment.
Indonesian clothing exports expanded at a moderate pace in January-May 2007—despite strong growth in the USA—as clothing exports to the EU declined and domestic demand surged. Malaysian exporters are trying to gain an edge over cheaper competitors by focusing on branding, quality, reliability, labour rights and superior customer service, as well as high-end fabrics and industrial textiles. Clothing exports from the Philippines suffered badly in the first few months of 2007 in the face of fierce competition from China and other low cost Asian producers. In Thailand, a drop in clothing exports was more than offset by impressive growth in certain non-apparel items. Exports from Vietnam, meanwhile, soared in the first nine months of 2007 after quotas were eliminated following the country’s accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Bangladesh has performed well in the post-quota era, despite fears of competition from China and India. In 2006/07 exports rose by 17% while production was up by 14%. India’s textile exports were up significantly but clothing exports grew sluggishly. Pakistan enjoyed brisk growth, despite Chinese and Indian competition, and sales to the EU and the USA picked up in 2007. Meanwhile, exports from Sri Lanka grew by an impressive 17.2% in value terms in the first five months of 2007, helped by a switch to the manufacture of higher added value products.