By  on July 3, 2007

GENEVA — Global fabric production rose by 3.6 percent during the fourth quarter of 2006, boosted by strong gains in Europe and Asia, according to a report from the International Textile Manufacturers Federation.

Zurich-based ITMF is an umbrella group for national textile associations in more than 30 major textile-producing nations.

Conditions for the textile industry are still proving difficult in the Western Hemisphere, however. Plant closings and on-going restructuring hampered production in the U.S. and Brazil, which posted declines of 15.9 percent and 16.6 percent respectively, according to an industry survey.

Industry analysts were surprised at the sharp decline in U.S. output given the weak dollar, and attributed the weakness of the Brazilian industry to the appreciation of the country's currency.

However, reflecting the robust state of the global economy, fabric production edged upwards by 6.7 percent in Europe, with Italy notching significant increases in quality fabric destined for the high end of the fashion industry, said Christian Schindler, director general of the ITMF.

Despite the setbacks in the U.S. and Brazil, Schindler said the outlook is "looking good" for fabric production this year.

Schindler said major gains were also achieved by Asia, with output up 10.8 percent. India, Pakistan and Vietnam also achieved gains.

On an annual basis, Asia's fabric production jumped by 32 percent. Output in the U.S. contracted by 40.8 percent, in Brazil by 8.2 percent and in Europe by 4.6 percent.

China, the world's largest producer and exporter of textiles, is not a member of the ITMF grouping.

Fourth-quarter results for world yarn production were down by 1.4 percent, with the U.S. and Brazil registering the biggest declines in production of 12.3 percent and 7.9 percent, respectively. In contrast, Asia managed an increase in yarn output of 0.3 percent, and Europe an increase of 4 percent.

Reflecting the recovery in Europe, yarn orders on the continent in the fourth quarter rose 3 percent, while orders in Brazil declined by 12.9 percent, ITMF said.Global fabric production posts gains, but U.S, and Brazil, buck tend with sharp declines

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