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Textiles and clothing

Euro-Mediterranean dialogue

Textiles and clothing industry in the Mediterranean partner countries

Textiles and clothing production has a long tradition in the Mediterranean Region. For more than 20 years, the trade between Mediterranean countries and the European Union has been dominated by textile and clothing products. The manufacture and the export of textile products and clothes represent a factor in economic development and political stability in the Mediterranean countries (MEDA). The textile and clothing sector alone accounts for almost 50% of MEDA exports of manufactured products to the EU. The main purchasing countries are France, Germany, Belgium and Spain.

The main textile and clothing players in the Mediterranean Region are Turkey, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Syria, and to a lesser extent and more recently Jordan. In all these countries the industry is the main industrial employer, accounting for 30 to 50% of jobs (mainly female). In Tunisia, Morocco and Jordan, clothing is the first export commodity; in Egypt and Syria the second export commodity after oil products.

The main assets of the Mediterranean Region are its geographical and cultural proximity to the European market, and the low labour cost. Indeed, the Mediterranean countries are capable of fulfilling a supplementary order within 10 days. This ability to respond is vital in a sector in which quick response has become crucial for meeting retailers' strategies towards consumers.

The organisation of the textiles and clothing sector in the Euro-Mediterranean area has traditionally been based on subcontracting relations between the retail and industry in Europe and manufacturers in the Mediterranean countries. In recent years one can observe a tendency of contractors to look for integrated offers at a competitive price. Co-contracting and the production of own finished products are becoming more and more important for the Mediterranean partners.

Euro-Mediterranean dialogue on the future of the textile and clothing industry

Mediterranean Dialogue in textiles was launched in response to a recommendation by the 5th Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference on Industry in Caserta on 4 October 2004. The kick-off meeting of the dialogue took place in Brussels on 13 December 2004. The dialogue aims at gathering national administrations of EU Member States and Mediterranean partner countries, in order to take stock of the recent developments in the textiles and clothing sector in the Euro-Mediterranean Region, and to discuss possible future directions and concrete actions that could be initiated through the dialogue.

The working groups sat up under this Dialogue on textiles, have in the summer 2006 prepared a report on the progress achieved and on a number of project-ideas that were proposed for its implementation. The report was provided to the Ministers at Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference in September 2006 in Rhodes who recognised the results achieved and expressed their support for further efforts made by the working groups.

Report pdf - 155 KB [155 KB] français (fr) [154 KB] on the Euro-Mediterranean Dialogue on the future of the textiles and clothing industry

Annex to the Report - project proposals

In the context of the Dialogue, the European Commission services have organised the following events:

Good practice of Mediterranean cooperation in the textile and clothing industry

The Agadir Agreement (the Arab Mediterranean Free Trade Agreement) is an example of regional cooperation in textiles and clothing industry in the Mediterranean. It was initiated in Agadir in May 2001 by the four Arab-Mediterranean countries of Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt. The current implementation of the agreement started on 27 March 2007 after the four member countries notified their customs outlets of the implementation of the agreement. The agreement aims to boost economic development and regional integration and to encourage foreign investments and trade exchange.

Some of the main provisions of the Agadir agreement include full exemption from the custom fees, charges and other taxes of similar effect on industrial goods, adoption of the Euro Mediterranean rules of origin which authorizes the cumulation of origin and the free circulation of goods within the Euro Mediterranean area.

Further information:

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