The main causes are weak demand in the supply chain and cutbacks by retail buyers and consumers stemming from the eurozone crisis and fiscal tightening by EU governments.
According to the latest data, EU textile and clothing exports to countries outside the European Union increased in value by 6.3% in 2012 whereas exports to other EU countries fell by 2.3%.
In textiles alone EU exports to non-EU countries were up by 2.9% while exports to other EU countries were down by 4.0%. A similar trend is evident in the case of clothing, with exports to countries outside the EU up by a healthy 10.1% but exports to other EU countries down by 1.0%.
There was strong growth in EU clothing exports to a number of emerging markets as EU exporters sought out new customers to offset declines in sales to customers in the EU. Exports to China, for example, were up in value by 33.3%. Exports to Colombia rose by 24.9%, to Macau by 27.6%, to Chile by 29.6%, to South Africa by 30.6%, to Brazil by 34.5% and to Venezuela by 52.2%.
There were also increases in exports to several other nations -- including Russia (up by 10.5%), Japan (up by 17.5%), the United Arab Emirates (UAE) (up by 18.3%), Saudi Arabia (up by 20.4%), South Korea (up by 20.7%), the USA (up by 24.1%) and Australia (up by 54.8%).
EU exporters were helped in 2012 by a 7.6% depreciation of the euro against the US dollar. This made selling abroad easier as many EU firms had the choice of maintaining their dollar prices and increasing their margins -- or cutting their dollar prices without sacrificing margins.
Looking ahead, opportunities for export growth should improve in 2014 as a further depreciation of the euro is predicted for the year.
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