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Exports of textiles & garments witness slow decline
Sep '08
Cotton had been woven in Basel as early as in 1380 A.D and in Zurich from the start of the 15th Century. But it was Geneva, not yet then part of Switzerland which became one of the principal gateways into Europe for raw and spun cotton, as well as finished Indian and Persian fabrics.

Industrialization started early in Switzerland, around the 1800's and was considered one of the most industrialized countries in the world. The rapid growth continued throughout the 19th century. However, most of the manufacturing activity was restricted to households rather than in factories.

The cotton industry was one of the first in line industry to be mechanized, when spinning machines took their roots in Switzerland in 1801 with the setting up of the first spinning mill. By 1814, manual spinning had practically disappeared from throughout the country.

The first machines were run on hydraulic power instead of steam-engines as was done in UK at that time, because Switzerland had abundance of rivers in the mountains and hills which made it relatively easy to generate power from water.

The textile industry was far more concentrated in the north and east of the country. The golden age of the Swiss cotton industry was towards end of 18th Century and the beginning of 19th century.

But an increase in import duties on foreign fabrics in France and other European countries spelt the beginning of the end of the calico cotton fabric or more popularly known as Muslin in the US.

Now Switzerland is known more for its textile machinery industry and has reputed companies like Rieter, Uster and Santex. The country also has global renowned names in textile related dyes and chemicals like Clariant AG and Huntsman Textile Effect.

The textile and garment industry is facing the heat from nimble and low on cost countries like China, India, Vietnam and Bangladesh. The exports of textiles and garments are gradually going down year by year from the country.

Combined shipments of textiles and garments have fallen from Swiss Francs (CHF) 2.09 billion in the period January-June 2007 to CHF 2.04 billion in the same period of 2008 to post a negative growth of a marginal 2.32 percent.

In the same comparative period, exports of textile have dipped from CHF 1.11 billion to 1.09 billion and that of garments from CHF 978.34 million to CHF 951.15 million to register a loss of 1.91 and 2.78 percent respectively.

Total exports of textiles and garments to the European Union and other European countries has seen shipments falling from CHF 1.46 billion in the period January-June 2007 to CHF 1.40 billion in the same period of 2008 to post a de-growth of 4.02 percent.

Exports to South and North America have also dipped by 12.54 percent. They have slipped from CHF 268.28 million to CHF 234.64 million in the period under consideration.

However shipments to Asia, the African continent and Oceania have maintained the growing trend. Exports to Asia have risen from CHF 314.59 million to CHF 355.15 million in the first six months of 2007 and 2008 respectively to register a growth of 12.89 percent.

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