China's textile industry must create new competitive advantages to compete with emerging low-cost producers such as Vietnam and Bangladesh in today's tough export climate, according to a senior official with the China National Textile and Apparel Council.

"It's clear from the trade data that apparel exports in low-cost countries including Vietnam and Bangladesh are growing faster than those in China, and we must increasingly look to expand the value of exports rather than rely on bulk selling at low prices," said Liu Yaozhong of the Council's international trade office.

Speaking at a seminar during the Intertextile Shanghai Apparel Fabrics trade show last week, Liu cautioned that the continued slow pace of recovery in Europe, including its continuing high unemployment, posed problems for Chinese exporters.

And he highlighted the imminent curtailment of the US government's quantitative easing programme as potentially deflating American demand for imported clothes - both issues creating difficult conditions for Chinese exporters next year.

"At this stage we can say there will be no change to the apparel import or export tax, and textile companies should research those countries experiencing remarkable growth of clothing exports like Vietnam, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia and Turkey," Liu added, without elaborating.

His comments were borne out on the floor of the show, where Chinese textile suppliers stressed the difficulty of selling into tight markets.

"The US economy is still struggling, so it's all about price," said Billy Wong, general manager of the Hong Kong-based Lucky Textiles Group.

"Before people would almost buy anything we produced because China was relatively cheap, but now we have to adapt our sales strategy," he told just-style.