In 2021, EU exports of textile and clothing items increased by 10.6%, while imports fell by 7.5%, according to the EURATEX spring report which offers a detailed overview trade figures for the European textile and clothing industry in 2021. The figures for 2021 are encouraging, compared to the spectacular corona year 2020.

As a result, the EU’s trade deficit has improved, although it remains large (-48 billion euros). In addition, import prices fell slightly in apparel and fell in textiles, following a sharp drop in Chinese import prices for face masks and protective medical supplies, according to the report.

In 2021, EU exports of textile and clothing items increased by 10.6%, while imports fell by 7.5%, according to the EURATEX spring report which offers a detailed overview trade figures for the European textile and clothing industry in 2021. The figures for 2021 are encouraging, compared to the spectacular corona year 2020.

The boom in exports is mainly due to the good performance of the Swiss, Chinese and American markets. On the other hand, EU textile and clothing sales to the UK fell sharply (-23%), due to new Brexit requirements, customs delays and shortage of lorry drivers. Imports from the EU’s main supplier, China, fell by -28%, corresponding to 13 billion euros. Similarly, imports of textiles and clothing from the United Kingdom fell sharply over the period (-48%, or -3 billion euros).

“The 2021 export figures, presented in this spring report, confirm that EURATEX members have grown; even if energy prices cause severe short-term disruption, our long-term ambition remains to be a global leader in sustainable textiles,” said Managing Director Dirk Vantyghem.

The international trade dimension is indeed essential for the competitiveness of the European textile ecosystem and must be fully integrated into the EU strategy for sustainable and circular textiles. The commission insists that “all textile products placed on the EU market are sustainable, free of hazardous substances, produced in compliance with social standards…”. This is an essential condition for creating a level playing field between all textile and clothing companies, regardless of their production base. With 100 billion euros of imports, and more than 20 billion “foreign” textile articles placed on the single market, this requires a drastic reinforcement of market surveillance, without however disrupting fluid supply chains.

Considering the impact of the war in Ukraine, EURATEX strongly condemned the Russian aggression and offered its support to the Ukrainian textile industry. Ukraine offers valuable sourcing opportunities for European textile and apparel brands, part of a wider outsourcing trend that seems to be emerging from trade figures.

Fibre2Fashion (RR) Press Office