World clothing export growth in 2012 is predicted to be even slower in volume terms than the 5 percent growth rate seen in 2011, according to a report in the latest issue of Global Apparel Markets
, published quarterly by the U.K.-based business information company Textiles Intelligence.
In value terms, world exports of clothing grew 17 percent in 2011, which represented by far the fastest rise in at least 20 years. As a result, exports reached a record high of $412 billion. But the rise was due largely to increases in unit prices. These increases were, in turn, due partly to sharp hikes in production costs - primarily in low-cost Asian countries where energy and labor costs have increased substantially and partly to the surge in cotton prices which occurred between March 2009 and March 2011, Textiles Intelligence said.
Exports from 12 of the 15 largest exporting countries increased at double-digit rates in value terms in 2011. The fastest growth rates were in exports from Southeast Asian and South Asian countries, notably Cambodia (up 33 percent), India (up 31 percent), Bangladesh and Vietnam (both up 27 percent) and Sri Lanka (up 21 percent).
“In the first few months of 2012, however, there was a slowdown in export growth from almost all of the major exporting countries,” the report said. “Furthermore, data for imports into the USA and the EU - the world's two largest clothing import markets - reveal falls in the first half of the year.
“Looking ahead, there is little hope of trade picking up in the EU, given the continuing eurozone crisis and forecasts suggesting that GDP in the region is set to fall during the year.”
The report does forecast that world clothing export growth is expected to be sustained in value terms as energy and labor costs in the main Asian producing countries continue to spiral, and producers seek to recover increases in their costs by putting up their prices. - Eric Johnson