EU warned of overreliance on China and Bangladesh for textile imports as trade deficit soars

EU textile and clothing trade surged to a historic €200 billion in 2022, with clothing imports from China and Bangladesh driving a remarkable growth (+36.6%) and widening the trade imbalance by 48% to €70 billion.

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The European Apparel and Textile Confederation (Euratex) has revealed in its latest Spring Report that EU textile imports have surged by 36.6% in value, driven by substantial contributions from China and Bangladesh.

Unfortunately, this has resulted in the EU’s trade deficit in textiles and clothing ballooning to €70 billion, marking a staggering 48% increase from the previous year.

Euratex expressed apprehension over the growing deficit, stating that it undermines the European Union’s Industrial Strategy objective of bolstering resilience and strategic autonomy.
Instead, the EU’s dependency on certain raw materials and fibers has intensified, creating critical vulnerabilities.

The report highlighted that these figures contradict the European Commission’s goal of promoting high-quality and sustainable textile products in the Single Market, regardless of origin.
With imports reaching €140 billion, effectively monitoring their quality and compliance becomes challenging. Euratex emphasized the need to significantly enhance market surveillance without impeding trade.

To restore balance in trade relations globally, the European Union must also focus on improving export performance, according to Euratex.

The trade body urged increased support to EU companies, which are leaders in high-end fashion and technical textiles, both in established markets and emerging economies.

The ongoing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with India should prioritize enhancing market access and ensuring fair competition with local companies.

The Spring Report from Euratex also highlighted substantial trade value and volume disparities. While the value of EU textile exports has risen by 13%, the volume has experienced a decline of nearly 7%.

This can be attributed to last year’s high inflation figures caused by surging energy costs and shifts in central bank policies, leading to consumer uncertainty and decreased demand throughout the value chain.

Dirk Vantyghem, Director General of Euratex, highlighted the globalized nature of the European textile industry and stressed the importance of considering this global dimension when formulating EU and national policies.

Neglecting this aspect could severely impact the industry’s global competitiveness.

Moving forward, stabilizing inflation, restoring consumer confidence, and ensuring a level playing field for all textile industry stakeholders are deemed essential by Vantyghem. By doing so, European companies can thrive and provide quality employment opportunities for the 1.3 million workers in the sector.

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