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WTO: Textile and Clothing Exports Surpass Average Growth

World exports of textiles and clothing were up 8 percent in 2013, four times higher than the 2 percent average for global export growth, according to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

In its annual International Trade Statistics 2014 report on trade in merchandise data through the end of 2013, the WTO said world exports of textiles and clothing totaled $766 billion last year.

The world’s top 10 textile exporters, China, the European Union, India, Turkey, Bangladesh, Vietnam, the United States, Korea, Pakistan and Indonesia all recorded positive growth.

India saw the highest growth in exports with a 23 percent increase over 2012, and Korea saw the most minimal growth with 2 percent. The top exporters held their positions, with the exception of Vietnam, which overtook the U.S. as the sixth largest textiles and clothing exporter.

China remains the world’s leading exporter with a 35 percent share in textile and clothing exports, and a 39 percent share in world exports of clothing. The Asian nation exported $106.6 billion worth of textiles last year, and $177 billion worth of clothing.

Last year, the E.U. was the largest clothing importer, accounting for 38 percent of world imports in 2013, followed by the U.S. with 19 percent of world imports.

The WTO also released its World Trade Report 2014, which shows how significantly trade contributed to economic development since 2000. The report found that four emerging trends suggest that trade will be a “major force for development in the 21st century.” Those trends are: the rise of the developing world, the expansion of global value chains, higher prices of commodities and the increasingly global nature of macroeconomic shocks.

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According to the report, incomes in developing countries are converging with those of rich countries, and GDP per capita of developing countries has grown 4.7% since 2000 while developed countries grew only 0.9%. Developing economies accounted for 43 percent of world merchandise trade last year.

Food, energy, metal and mineral have roughly doubled since 2000, and though the prices have eased back from historical highs, the WTO noted that strong demand for these commodities from large developing countries could mean the high-price environment is here to stay.

Global trade dipped by more than 30 percent in mere months during the global economic crisis, and the trade collapse and following recovery signaled a dependency of developing economies on cyclical developments in large developed economies. “The synchronization of downswings and upswings across the world illustrated the strong inter-connectedness of economies through trade and financial links, in particular the role of supply chains in the propagation of shocks, and the importance of trade finance, which had dried up,” the report noted.

“We have entered a new era in the link between trade and development,” Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said in marking the launch of the report. “Driven in large part by trade, some developing economies have made remarkable progress in recent years, but much still needs to be done to close the gap for many poor economies.”