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China, the global leader in T-shirts production could lose its position in future

Much of the world’s T-shirts come from China. China has one of the world's largest textile industries, with 20 million workers relying on cotton imports from countries like Brazil, India and the US as they create products like T-shirts.

The US is the biggest source of Chinese cotton imports, representing 35 per cent of all incoming cotton. It is followed by Brazil and India with Australia, Uzbekistan and Mexico among other major exporters.

China produces 5.16 billion units of T-shirts a year – representing half of all global output. After being imported to China as cotton, the production process is completed and billions of these T-shirts hit the high seas once again, exported to all four corners of the world. The T-shirts are then sold off as high-end consumer products or cheaper goods in markets across every continent.

However, production of T-shirts is gradually shifting to other countries in Asia. While the economically mature markets of the US, Canada, and Western Europe are close to their saturation point in terms of T-shirt consumption, emerging economies, such as China, India, Russia, and Brazil, are far from saturated. They share a few similar characteristics, including a rising population, an improved economic situation, rising disposable incomes, and urbanization.