According to a new report by the World Trade Organization (WTO), the global textile and clothing industry has shown remarkable resilience in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, bouncing back strongly after a tumultuous 2020. The report reveals that despite a decline in the value of textiles trade in 2021 and 2022, global trade in textiles surged by 14 per cent in 2022 compared to the pre-COVID year of 2019, largely due to the increased demand for medical face coverings. Trade in clothing also experienced significant growth, with a 9 per cent increase in 2022 compared to the previous year.
The report, titled Global Trade Outlook and Statistics, further highlights that global clothing trade in 2022 was 16 per cent higher than the trade volume in 2019, indicating a robust recovery that has surpassed pre-pandemic levels. While the value of world merchandise trade saw a 12 per cent rise in 2022, reaching $25.26 trillion, this growth rate was slower compared to the remarkable 27 per cent growth experienced in 2021, following a 5.3 per cent decline in 2020. However, global merchandise trade in 2022 was 32 per cent higher than the pre-pandemic level recorded in 2019.
The report also forecasts a 1.7 per cent growth in world merchandise trade volume for 2023, with a further pickup to 3.2 per cent in 2024. However, the WTO warns of potential downside risks to the projected growth, including geopolitical tensions, food insecurity, potential financial instability resulting from tightening monetary policies, and increasing levels of debt.
The global textile and clothing industry has been one of the hardest-hit sectors by the COVID-19 pandemic, with widespread disruptions to supply chains, reduced consumer demand, and factory closures leading to significant job losses. However, the industry has shown remarkable resilience in adapting to the changing market conditions, with many companies pivoting their production lines to meet the demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical supplies.
The WTO report highlights that the increased demand for medical face coverings played a significant role in driving the growth of the global textile industry in 2022. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the emergence of new variants, the demand for PPE and medical supplies is likely to remain high, providing a much-needed boost to the textile industry.