GENEVA — The pace of China’s textile and apparel exports to the U.S. shows no sign of slowing and is projected to expand by 170 percent for apparel and by 264 percent for textiles within the next four years, a study by the International Labor Organization predicted.

China, which has had its imports restricted by the U.S. and European Union this year even though the global quota regime ended Jan. 1, “has an enormous potential to increase [its] exports,” in those sectors to the U.S., EU and Canada, the study said.

ILO economists estimate Chinese exports to the EU will increase by 458 percent for textiles and 176 percent for apparel.

The study, “The End of the Multi-Fiber Agreement and Its Implications for Trade and Employment,” prepared for a three-day conference that kicked off here Monday, estimated that Pakistan is likely to be the next-biggest beneficiary, with exports of textiles to the U.S. expected to expand by 76.5 percent and by 120 percent to the EU. The ILO projects India to also post major gains in the EU market, with its textile shipments estimated to increase by 68.6 percent.

Executives from major apparel corporations including Levi Strauss and Gap Inc., along with labor leaders and top representatives from industry groups, are attending the session at ILO headquarters.

The report said some countries, such as Cambodia, Thailand and Bangladesh, will be “slight losers,” but added they have the potential “to be winners” if they usher in appropriate adjustment policies and associate their domestic production with that of the “winner” countries in the region.

But some, such as Mexico and the Central American countries, will suffer from the heightened competition, although the ILO said they have the capacity “to survive in niches” by applying specific restructuring strategies, such as faster-turn capabilities. Similarly, countries with close proximity to the EU, like Turkey, Romania, Egypt and Morocco, could also benefit in the new environment, the report said.

“Nevertheless, some countries will lose completely,” noted the ILO, including smaller advanced industrialized countries and some poor countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Daan Zult of the ILO International Policy group and the principal author of the study, said the loss of tariff preferences as a result of a deal in the Doha global trade talks could have adverse implications for some of the poorest countries.

This story first appeared in the October 26, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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