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The World’s Biggest Exporters of Clothes


This article is published in collaboration with Statista

by Anna Fleck


China is the world’s biggest exporter of clothing, having exported some $176 billion worth of garments in 2021, according to data from the World Trade Organization. Alone, the country made up a third of global exports that year. Next in line comes the European Union, with $151 billion in exports. The bloc accounted for 28.1 percent of global figures. When looking at numbers on a country-by-country basis though, Bangladesh is the world’s second largest exporter of clothes, having sent $34 billion worth of clothing abroad that year, which equated to just over 6 percent of global exports.


As the following chart shows, the grand majority of garment exports come from Asia, with the next biggest markets coming from Vietnam (5.8 percent of global exports), Turkey (3.5 percent), India (3 percent) and Malaysia (2.7 percent). Bangladesh is one of the countries on the list with the fastest pace of growth recorded over the past decade, with its exports increasing by 8 percent between 2010 and 2021. Vietnam and Malaysia also stand out for their fast growth rate, with their exports growing by 11 and 13 percent in that time, respectively.


In terms of who’s buying the clothes, the EU tops the list, with $195 billion worth of imports (34.1 percent of global imports) in 2021, followed by the United States with $106 billion (18.5 percent of imports). There’s then a gap until Japan with $27 billion (4.6 percent) and the United Kingdom with $23 billion (4 percent). Although China is the world’s manufacturing superpower, it still spent $12 billion on importing clothes in 2021.


A main reason that so many clothes are bought from countries on this list is due to companies outsourcing production in order to receive low prices because of low wages. Find out more on the topic here.


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