Vietnam's textile and garment exports jumped 38% year-on-year in 2011 to reach a record US$15.6bn, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

The biggest gain in export turnover was seen in fibres, which rose 26% over 2010 to $1.8bn.

During the year there was no change in major export markets, with the US remaining the biggest client, worth US$7.1bn, a rise of 13% over the previous year. This was followed by the EU (up 25% to US$2.4bn) and Japan (up 43% to US$1.65bn). Growth was also seen to Korea, where Vietnamese exporters have benefited from the Asean - Korea Free Trade Agreement (AKFTA).

According to Mr Le Tien Truong, deputy director general of the Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group (Vinatex), the impressive industry export growth is largely due to the flexibility of local manufacturers during times of economic uncertainty, and the fact that enterprises have taken advantage of free trade agreements with the key markets.

During the year, the industry spent around US$6.8bn on importing fabric for local production, a year-on-year rise of 26.1%.