7 July 2010
The European clothing import market did not recover over the first quarter this year. A stabilisation in Chinese shipments did not benefit other Asian nations with Indonesia and Bangladesh most negatively affected. Suppliers of the high-end segment are back, especially Turkey and Tunisia.
EU's clothing imports were far from recovering in the first quarter this year, according to official data from Eurostat which were compiled by EmergingTextiles.
In volume terms, shipments from outside the European Union fell 2.1%, after a decline of 6.75% over the same period last year.
In euro terms, clothing imports were down 9% after rising 3.7% in January-March 2009.
Turkey benefited from a recovery of the European demand in the higher end of the clothing market.
EU's imports from Turkey were stable in euro terms after falling 14.6% a year earlier.
Turkey's share of EU's import market rebounded from 12.01% up to 13.32%, although not returning to its level before the economic crisis.
China made further gains in volume terms with a small rise of 1.74% but lost ground in value terms.
After surging 18.9% in euro terms over the first quarter 2009, imports from China fell 9.3% this year.
China's share no more rose in value terms, apparently stabilised at 43.8%.
China potentially reached a peak on the European clothing market after taking a full advantage of the removal of European quotas on January 1st, 2008.
With production costs rising in China and a stronger yuan ahead, a decline in Chinese shipments would not be surprising, starting from 2011.
Bangladesh did not benefit from China's stabilisation in the first quarter, far from it.
EU's clothing imports from the low-cost producer fell 5% in volume terms and even declined 14.2% in euro terms.
Other Asian suppliers got similarly poor results, with imports from Indonesia more sharply declining, probably due to the strong rise in the rupiah in 2009.
Tunisian shipments began by contrast recovering, as a confirmation of a rebound in higher-priced imports.
Averaged import price of Tunisian clothing is 100% above total average.
Turkey is 42% above average, China 12% below and Bangladesh 38% below (see our three last tables).