Thai garment exporters are increasingly forming alliances with foreign marketing experts and countries that have cheaper production costs.

Savate Sresthaporn, vice president of the Thai Garment Manufacturers Association, named Taiwan, China and Singapore as some of the target countries.

The textile industry must develop production efficiency as well as marketing strategies to maintain its export competitiveness, Savate said.

Thailand's textile export value reached $5.58bn, making the industry the country's second biggest foreign income earner last year.

Under the strategy, alliance companies have to exchange all information, including manufacturing processes, capacity, raw materials and marketing plans with their partners. Savate said the exchange process would last for more than two years so that the partners could maintain big lot orders. The orders are allocated to alliance members according to their production capacity.

Meanwhile industry insiders warned that the downward economic trend in the US would directly affect Thailand's exports.

Nikorn Wattanapanom, director of the Ex-MBA programme at the National Institute of Development Administration, said it would be difficult to find new markets to offset the loss in the US market.

The US is the biggest export market for Thai apparel, accounting for 51.1 per cent of total export value in the first two months of this year. The second and third biggest are the European Union at 21.1 per cent and Japan at 7.8 per cent of total export value.

Nikorn suggested that Thai exporters develop new marketing strategies to maintain orders.