Current Challenges in the Global Textile and Apparel Industry

Last Updated on 27/04/2021

Current Challenges in the Global Textile and Apparel Industry

Noor Ahmed Raaz
Faculty Member, Dept. of Textile Engineering,
Atish Dipankar University of Science & Technology


The global textile and apparel industry is undergoing a very challenging period since the beginning of this century. Several structural changes have led to a new business environment that the global textile industry needed to adapt to and still do. In 2001 China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) and thus a country with approx. 1.3 billion people was suddenly having easier access to markets around the world and was thus becoming an important player in the global trade arena. In 2004 the traditional quota system for textiles and clothing finally phased out. This provided new opportunities to countries that were so far restricted by the quota system and posed challenges to those countries that had benefited from the quota system.

Of course the global financial and economic crisis in 2008/2009 (also referred to as the Great Recession), the worst since the Great Depression in the 1930s, had a negative effect on the global economy in general and the global textile industry in particular.

Since the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak began in China at the end of 2019, its impact has been felt across the global apparel and textile sector. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Asia’s textile manufacturers has been unprecedented.

Bangladesh’s market share in global RMG trading is circa 6.5%, and the country consistently remained the second largest exporter after the Peoples Republic of China. Bangladesh primarily exports to the European Union (62%) and the United States of America and Canada (21%). Over the last three decades, the RMG exports have registered a cumulative average growth of 14.8%per annum reaching $34.2billion in FY2019 which is 84.2% of the country’s total exports. Below graph shows the growth of the RMG industry since 1990 defying all regional and international crises, however, the industry is now at the crossroads due to COVID19 fallouts.

rmg export from bangladesh

Challenges in the textile industry
One very important factor is how innovative the textile industry is, together with the research community serving it, and how innovative it is going to be in future. Historically, strong and innovative materials, chemicals and machinery/component manufacturers have made vital contributions towards helping the textile and clothing industry in their efforts to be sustainable.

The growth of the technical textiles sector in recent decades has been remarkable. Innovation, mainly originating in the industrialized world, has benefited all stages of the supply chain in textiles, especially advanced and technical textiles.

In order to make better use of the ideas generated in the research community of textile research institutes and universities, the innovation-driven research and development work in these institutions needs to be strongly prioritized. The transfer of knowledge to the industry should be made much more effective than it is today; introducing the right environment in academic research establishments would facilitate interaction with textile and clothing companies. In order to attract top-class scientists and technologists, academic and industrial partners in the value chain of the textile and clothing industry must encourage and reward innovative experimentation, from ideas to applications. Because the textile industry is becoming more and more interdisciplinary in the nature of materials and production processes, the current undergraduate and postgraduate textile education systems must be redefined and redesigned in order to better suit the future needs of scientists, engineers and technicians, both in the industrial and academic spheres.

garment sector share of exports

It is important to look at the current structure of the global textile industry, especially as the result of the ongoing process of globalization. Various types of textile supply chains and customer interactions with the industry are significantly affecting company strategies as regards design, product development, manufacturing and marketing of textiles and textile products.

Trends in textile markets have major implications for textile products and processes. Because of ever-increasing environmental awareness and the possible impact of environmental regulations on the whole textile supply chain, the industry will face many challenges in the future.

At the World Textile Summit, held for the first time in connection with ITMA 2011 trade-fair in Barcelona, the agenda was designed to offer a global perspective on the opportunities and challenges likely to face the textile industry in the years ahead. The importance of cooperation across the supply chain to drive sustainability and innovation, sustainable programmes incorporating reduction of energy and water consumption, the growing influence of technical textiles, China’s increasing challenges and the growing opportunities for India were some of the key points of discussions at this Summit. The contents of the present book were designed and planned a long time prior to the World Textile Summit and the issues discussed in this book include many of those which were discussed at the World Textile Summit in September 2011.

For clear concept we highlight some statistics:

Top 20 exporting countries of fashion goods
Top 20 exporting countries of fashion goods* (share in global exports), estimated TEU 2019 (Source: MDS Transmodal, March 2020)


clothing 2020

Textile and clothing trade in the global market is fast changing with the scaling up of uses of textiles in diverse areas. Asian countries including India play a dominant role in the international trade of the global market. China has the major share in textile and clothing trade in the international market etc. Both Bangladesh and Hong Kong have a significant share. However, India is still on the back seat. It is reported that Asian counties export most of textile and apparel to Europe and North America and USA etc.

You may also like:

  1. Contribution of Textile and RMG Sector in Bangladesh Economy
  2. Ready-Made Garments (RMG): The Leading Earning Sector in Bangladesh
  3. Ready-made Garments (RMG) Market in Bangladesh
  4. Prospects of Garments Industry in Bangladesh
  5. Safety Measures for Garment Industry According to Buyer Requirements
  6. List of Different Types of Garment Testing Used in RMG Industry
  7. Professional Practice of Fashion Merchandising in RMG Sector of Bangladesh
  8. An Overview of Indian Textile Industry
  9. Garments Made in India: Why Quality is Factor?
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  11. Overview of Textile Sector of Pakistan
  12. Impacts of Coronavirus on Global Apparel Industry

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