Thailand's garment exporters are hoping that growth in Japan and the ASEAN region, as well as new markets like India and China, will help to offset an expected slowdown in the US and EU next year.

"Next year is [likely to be] a tough year for our industry," Mr Yuttana Silpsarnvitch, executive director of the Thai Garment Manufacturers Association (TGMA), told just-style today (16 November).

"We have set a 10% growth target for garment [exports] and 30% growth target for textiles," he added, noting that a focus on new product development and a stronger push into new and growing markets are the key strategies for achieving this.

According to Mr Yuttana, Japan's share is set to rise strongly as orders shift away from China to other countries. But he said the US and EU - Thailand's main export customers - are suffering from slow sales and "huge stocks from the past."

His comments came as the association revealed that Thailand's textile exports climbed 21.36% year-on-year in the first nine months of 2011. Garment exports were up 7.04% to $2.544bn during the period. However, growth at the beginning of the year has now turned negative, with clothing shipments falling 5.05% in September to $272.6m.

The US remained the biggest garment export market during the period - accounting for 35.11% of the total - but exports here were down 5.83% compared with last year to $893.4m. In September alone, shipments to the US fell 26.24%.

Likewise, exports to the EU edged up 3.51% over last year, reaching $780.8m, and accounted for 30.7% of the total, but they slumped 9.27% in September.

In contrast, shipments to all other major markets enjoyed growth - especially Japan which saw a 36.7% jump to $249.2m in the January to September period. It posted a rise of 61% in September. Exports to the ASEAN region surged 30.25%.

Within the EU, Germany was the top export market, rising 118.1% to $136.5m, and followed by UK which fell 5.2% to $132.9m.