Functional knit fabrics bucked the trend in 2013 as Taiwan's exports of textile and apparel products declined 1% by value to end at US$11.7bn.

"Overseas sales of Taiwan-made functional knit fabrics increased 8.8% in 2013. We think it will continue to rise in 2014 along with the popularity of outdoor wear and sportswear," said Chen Hong Yi, a manager at the Taiwan Textile Federation (TTF).

Eyeing economic recovery in major western markets such as the US and Japan, Chen added: "We think the export of textile and apparel products in 2014 could actually increase 2% from 2013 to US$11.9bn."

Unlike neighbouring China, where clothing is the major textile export product, Taiwanese companies are known for high-tech fabrics, a specialisation that is its key advantage in the global market, Chen said.

"Taiwan companies in recent years have moved their focus to developing functional and eco-friendly fabrics. Taiwan is one of the world's major suppliers for functional fabrics," Chen said.

The Taiwan government is set to help local companies get more business. For example, 12 selected local companies will be assisted by its Bureau of Foreign Trade in 2014 to get training from the TTF for international marketing. The aid per company is up to NTD1.3m (USD43,300), according to the TTF.