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Global textile & apparel markets to remain subdued in 2012
Jul '12

Textile and clothing markets are likely to remain subdued in 2012, given the considerable uncertainty in the global economy, and the fact that the debt crisis in the eurozone continues to hit business and consumer confidence, according to Issue No 156 of Textile Outlook International from the global business information company Textiles Intelligence.

In the EU economy, the recovery which started in 2010 is expected to be snuffed out in 2012. Forecasts suggest that the EU economy will suffer a second dip in 2012 with GDP down in real terms by 0.5%. A partial recovery is predicted for 2013 but GDP is expected to grow by only 0.8%.

The views of European textile manufacturers reflect this outlook. Having reported a notable recovery in their markets in 2011, the recovery slowed markedly in the last quarter of the year and the view now is that the effects of Europe’s economic turbulence will continue to have an adverse effect on trade during the remainder of 2012 and perhaps beyond. Indeed, in the first quarter of 2012, EU clothing imports were down in volume by a dramatic 12.0%.

The prospects for the USA are less pessimistic. In 2012 GDP growth is expected to accelerate to 2.2%, from 1.7% in 2011, before falling back slightly to 2.1% in 2013. Nevertheless, clothing imports continue to be affected, with the volume of imports in the first quarter of 2012 down by 3.9%.

Weak market conditions in the EU and the USA affected exports from several Asian countries in the first quarter of 2012, following strong growth in 2011 as a whole. In Indonesia, for example, textile and clothing exports rose in value by 18.2% in 2011 but fell by 5.2% in the first quarter of 2012. In Thailand, exports rose in value by 7.5% in 2011 but declined by a sharp 15.3% in the first quarter of 2012. And in the Philippines clothing export growth slowed in value to just 1.1% in the first quarter of 2012 following an 11.4% rise in 2011. Export growth also slowed in several other countries.

In India, meanwhile, clothing exports fell in value by a sharp 11.9% in the 2011/12 financial year, which ended on March 31, 2012, having increased by 4.7% in the previous year. Textile export growth, meanwhile, slowed to just 0.4%, having risen by 34.7% in 2010/11.

Reflecting the country’s weaker export prospects, Indian GDP growth forecasts for 2012 have been revised downwards. In September 2011 it was forecast that India’s GDP would grow by 7.5% in 2012 but in April 2012 this forecast was revised downwards to 6.9%. Furthermore, in the first three months of 2012, Indian GDP rose by only 5.3%, which represented the slowest quarterly growth rate in India for nine years.

The prospects for China -- which has long been an engine of growth for the world economy -- are similar, with GDP growth forecasts lowered from 9.0% to 8.2%.

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