Thailand's garment exports are expected to recover next year and increase by 10%, thanks largely to an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Japan.

The EPA, which takes effect from 1 November, is likely to bring a new wave of Japanese garment importers to Thailand instead of other countries, including China.

Japan currently imports 90% of its total garment demands, with just 1% coming from Thailand.

Dej Pathanasethpong, president of the Thai Garment Manufacturers' Association, anticipates the 10% growth, which is also based on increased orders from the EU.

Thailand's garment production and exports have suffered in recent years, as the country faced financial and currency crises, together with increasing competition from other neighbouring countries.

During the first eight months of this year, Thailand exported US$2.26bn worth of garments, down 4% compared with same period of 2006.

By Ngo Tuan.