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World textile and apparel trade and production trends, September-October 2004
published in Issue 125, April 2023
US clothing sales were brisk in early 2004. But textile output fell to a 20-year low—despite higher exports—and clothing to a 30-year low. Textile imports soared in volume by 18.7% in the first eight months although clothing imports rose only 1.3%, despite big gains by China. In Brazil growth was brisk in the first half of 2004 as sales picked up to Argentina, the EU and the USA. Colombia gained from special US access under ATPDEA. Argentinean exports rose as the recovery continued. But Mexican output was hit by falling sales to the USA.
EU15 textile and clothing output fell in 2003 as the stronger euro hit textile exports and boosted clothing imports. The deficit exceeded Euro30 bn, of which China accounted for 42%. Spain was the worst hit. Among the new EU members, Lithuanian firms are seeking lower cost bases in Belarus. Others are targeting Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria. Russian output fell in 2003 as imports took 75% of the market. Exports fell from all Mediterranean countries except Turkey.
Japanese exports rose in early 2004 but output was hit by rising imports and lower domestic sales. Chinese exports soared 22.1% in the first eight months. Yarn output rose 14.8%, fabric 16.7% and clothing 14.5%. Investment continues as the industry gears up for the end of quotas. In Hong Kong output is falling as operations move to China. The sector has survived through its quota holding and faces uncertainty after 2004. Chinese competition has hit South Korean exports. Survivors are shifting to hi-tech items or moving to Vietnam and North Korea. Taiwan’s textile exports have done well in 2004 but clothing sales are down. Firms are investing in China, Lesotho and Vietnam. Indonesia has suffered in the EU. But it has fared better in the US clothing market and is optimistic about its prospects after 2004. Thailand’s exports have recovered but Malaysian firms are being forced by rising costs to invest in Cambodia, China and Vietnam. Vietnam has been hit by US quotas but these will end when it joins the WTO, possibly between late 2005 and mid-2006. Bangladeshi clothing has done well in the EU but badly in the USA. Without an adequate textile sector, it fears the end of quotas. India’s exports, by contrast, are rising and leading mills are investing. Pakistan and Sri Lanka are also enjoying brisk growth, despite Chinese competition.