EU’s trade deficit increased in 2021 as textile and clothing exports increased 10.6 per cent while imports declined -7.5 per cent. As per the Spring report by Euratex, import prices of EU clothing and textile declined during the year due to a drop in import prices of Chinese face masks and protective medical clothing. Increased EU textile and clothing exports during the year could be attributed to a strong performance in Swiss, Chinese and US markets. On the other hand, sales in the United Kingdom declined 23 per cent, due to new Brexit rules, customs clearance delays and labor shortage. EU reduced its imports from China by 28 per cent to €13 billion during the year. It also reduced textile and clothing imports from the United Kingdom by 48 per cent to €-3 billion. Dirk Vantyghem, Director General, Euratex says, the EU aims to be world leader in sustainable textiles despite rising energy prices.
Embed international trade in growth strategy
To achieve this, the European Union needs to embed international trade in its Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles. It needs to ensure all products introduced in the market are durable, free of hazardous substances, produced respecting social standards. It also needs to upscale market surveillance without disrupting the supply chains. Condemning Russian aggression in Ukraine, Vantyghem says, Ukraine offers valuable sourcing opportunities for European textile and apparel brands besides supporting its nearshoring trend.
A pillar of local economy
With around 154,000 companies employing 1.47 million workers, the textile and clothing industry is an essential pillar of local economy in the EU. The industry has completed several high added value projects in growing markets around the world. These projects were completed in collaboration with the Euratex, the voice of the textile and clothing industry in the region, which focuses on effective research, innovation and skills development, free and fair trade, and sustainable supply chains.