The latest figures issued by the Colombian government show that in 2011, the country's exports of textiles and clothing totalled almost US$1.41bn, an increase of 8% on the previous year.

Exports to the EU were up 13.6%, reaching close to EUR114m in value.

A number of leading brands such as Adidas, Victoria's Secret, Tommy Hilfiger, Levi Strauss & Co, DKNY and Timberland have sub-contractors in Colombia.

Colombian textile and clothing producers are looking to a Free Trade Treaty (FTT) signed with the EU and which takes effect this autumn, to drive further growth.

"In order to do this, Colombian clothing prices have to remain competitive because local firms don't want to take the risk of losing market share with the arrival
of strong competition, particularly from Asia," said Camilo Martinez, the director of the Colombian export agency, Proexport Colombia.

Colombia has an existing FTT with the US too.

Estimates put the number of garment makers in Colombia at 10,000, the majority operating from value-added workshops equipped with between 20 and 60
sewing machines.