EU Trade in technical textiles and clothing is surging
In 2015, the best EU exporters’ performances were achieved in the market of technical textiles and womenswear
Exports of man-made fibres outside of the EU have regained their rate of growth these past years and rose by +4.5 % in value during 2015. There were some changes in the ranking of the EU-28’s main customers, although the USA remained the EU leading customer. Despite the downward trend in the production volume of thread and yarn, in 2015, the volume of exports outside the EU was unchanged. The value increment noticed (+4.8 %) stemmed above all from the price of the raw material imports which became more expensive with a weak euro.
Woven fabrics’ exports went down for the first time in several years (-0.4 %). Regarding the main buyers of European fabrics, Morocco held onto top place with an increase of +2.1 % in value, thanks to its purchasing of discontinuous synthetic fibre fabrics (+13.6 %). 2015 was a somewhat difficult year for the knitted fabric representing 5.7 % of EU-28 textile exports. These exports remained almost stable in value terms. Morocco and Tunisia were still the main buyers of these articles even if trends were different.
Exports of carpets recovered in value (+2.6 %), with slightly higher unit prices (+2.1 %). This sector accounted for a little over 4 % of textile exports.
Customer-wise, the USA and Switzerland were the main buyers. In 2015, exports outside the EU of home textiles recorded growth (+4.7 % on average). Of all the products in this category, the main one – bed linen (with a share of 38 %) – saw its exports climb by +9.2 %. Switzerland and the USA were still the two major buyers of home textiles.
Technical Textiles continued to represent a very large share of textile product exports outside the EU. This change was reflected in a +5.3 % increase. The USA was the main customer in this category by a broad margin – buying 19 % of goods, an increment of +13.4 %.
EU-28 menswear exports still accounted for 23 % of total exports in the clothing sector thanks to +3.8 % growth in value terms. Mirroring the situation of menswear, womenswear exports outside the EU-28 increased +6.3 %. This sector accounted for more than 40 % of all clothing exports outside the EU.
The 2015 evolution of imports indicates a growth in all products of the value chain, with the largest increase in technical textiles and womenswear
With production of textile products in the EU-28 on a downward trend, foreign demand for man-made fibres edged up slightly by +6.3 % in value terms. With a 28 % market share in terms of volume, South Korea was still the main supplier. Owing to the continued shrinkage of activity in the downstream, the volume of imports of yarn and thread from outside the EU slightly increase (+2.4 %), they also felt the backlash of the euro’s fall. As was the case for all other imported textiles, the euro’s decline brought about an 8.1 % increase in the value of imports of all types of woven fabrics. Imports of cotton fabrics represented the lion’s share in value (31 %) and rose by +2.4 %. 87 % of the value of EU knitted Fabrics’ imports were divided up among three countries: Turkey, China and South Korea. Imports originating in these three countries progressed by respectively +39 %, 36 % and 12 %.
Four main players continued to share the EU-28 carpet import market: Turkey, India, China and Egypt. With a +26 % increase, Turkey successfully held on as the leading supplier, while Egypt was again ranked fourth albeit with some ground lost to its main competitors. 58 % of the value and 65 % of the volume of EU-28 home textile imports were divided between China, the leading supplier with a 33.5 % share, and Pakistan, expanding steadily to a 24.2 % share and increasing by +14.9 % in value. Almost all imports of technical textiles from the various suppliers exhibited double digit growth (+14.3 % on average). With a +13.8 % increase, China held onto it comfortable position as leading supplier.
Menswear imports in 2015 climbed to EUR 20 billionn (25% of all clothing imports), meaning a +10.7 % gain in value terms but a -4.5 % drop in volume. Consequently, the unit prices of made up articles rose in their entirety (by an average of +15.9 %). Womenswear imports in 2015 climbed to EUR 29 bn (36% of all clothing imports), meaning a +11.3 % gain. China continued to be the main supplier. In 2015, imports of Chinese origin grew +7.7 % in value.
This information is an overview of Euratex bulletin n°1/2016, which provides an in-depth analysis of the EU Textile and Clothing External Trade in 2014-2015. The publication includes trade evolution by sector, by products (around 140) and by main EU trading partners.