Italy, traditionally one of the world's major exporters of fine quality silk fabrics, is increasingly meeting its silk needs by sourcing from China.

Italy's silk production has also been steadily declining, down 8 per cent last year compared with figures for 2002.

Recently issued government statistics show the silk trends are part of a larger picture of increasing imports of raw materials and finished garments from the Far East, and especially from China.
 
In 2000, Italy imported just over 69 million tons of textiles from China. By 2003 the figure had very nearly doubled to 111 million tons of fabrics, while in ready-made clothing the import upturn was even more dramatic from 73 million tons in 2002 to 211 million last year.

By Sonia Roberts.