Textile and garment exports from China slumped 32.9% in February thanks to falling US and European demand, according to official news agency Xinhua.

Industry experts also blamed the fall in severe winter storms, which had been unusually harsh, along with the weakness of the dollar and rising labour costs.

February exports were US$10.3bn, down 32.9% on January's figures and 8.5% lower than the previous year, according to the General Administration of Customs.

Two-monthly figures covering January and February also showed a slackening of growth.

The total was $25.6bn, up 9.6% on last year, but a slowdown compared to previous growth rates of about 20% for the period. Zhang Bin, analyst with Simolink Securities, told Xinhua it was too soon to say if predictions of 15% export growth in 2008 were over-optimistic.