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WTO: 2012 a Tough Year for Textiles and Apparel

Statistics on international trade for 2012, recently released by the World Trade Organization (WTO), show global textiles and clothing exports were generally lackluster for the year.

As usual, exports of textiles and apparel from half of the top ten international textile and apparel exporters continued to grow, but at a slower rate than in recent previous years, from 0.2% and 7.5% respectively.

China, once more, was the top global exporter of textiles and garments, climbing to an impressive 33 percent share of international shipments for textiles, an increase from its 32 percent share in 2011.

China’s clothing exports similarly increased by one percentage point to 38 percent over its 37 percent share in 2011.

The lower half of the top ten posted falloffs in exports of between 2.3% and 8 percent.

Last year’s top ten were China, E.U.27, India, Turkey, Bangladesh, United States, Vietnam, South Korea, Pakistan and Indonesia, according to WTO data.

Vietnam was top in growth for textile and apparel exports for 2012, increasing shipments by 7.5%. The European Union by contrast experienced an 8 percent decline in exports.

The European Union and the United States, as usual, were the world’s top importers of clothing, with the E.U. importing 38 percent, and the U.S. importing 20 percent.

Of all manufacturing categories worldwide for 2012, textiles claimed a 2.5% share and clothing 3.7%.

The 2012 value of the international textile and apparel trade hit $708 billion. Total textile trade amounted to about $286 billion, with apparel amounting to $423 billion.

Overall, worldwide textile exports fell by 3 percent year-over-year, and clothing exports posted a marginal 1 percent increase year-over-year.