Textile and clothing exports from the European Union grew 3.6% last year, thanks at least in part to a favorable exchange rate with the U.S., the E.U.’s top market.
Growth was also good in textile exports to Hong Kong, which saw a 7 percent increase, and to China, which ticked up 6 percent, according to the E.U.’s Textile and Clothing Information Centre (CITH).
Economic struggles in Russia meant the country took in 27 percent less European product, while exports to Ukraine slipped 1 percent.
Clothing exports had even higher growth rates than textiles—South Korea took in the most from the E.U. at 22 percent, the U.S. brought in 21 percent more product and Hong Kong bought 20 percent more European clothing.
Trade between the U.S. and E.U. could flourish further once the two settle free trade talks that would offer each market greater access to the other and create jobs.
The European Commission said earlier this month that it wants to wrap up talks with the U.S. on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) by this summer—before President Obama leaves office as a new leader could want to weigh in, which would delay the deal that has already been underway for more than two years.
Europe’s textile imports from the U.S. saw the highest growth among the E.U.’s top 20 suppliers, at 16 percent.
China, Pakistan and Vietnam followed, each sending the E.U. 11 percent more textiles.
Asia made up the greatest growth in clothing exports to the E.U. as most countries recorded at least double-digit increases.
In value terms, China was the E.U.’s top contributor of clothing last year, supplying 30 billion euro ($33 billion) worth of clothing articles, a 6 percent increase over the previous year.
Bangladesh ranked second as a supplier to the E.U. with exports up 24 percent to 13.7 billion euro ($15.1 billion). The E.U. imported 31 percent more product from Cambodia, and Myanmar—now resurging as an apparel producer—supplied 79 percent more goods to the E.U. worth 420 million euro ($463 million).
The E.U. is committed to growing its trade relationship with Myanmar. Just last month, the E.U. said it would invest 2.8 million euro ($3.1 million) in Myanmar’s garment sector to aid in development.