Thailand's garment and textile exports in 2002 are likely to come close to last year's levels following the release of trading figures for the first 10 months of the year.

In the January to October period exports fell to US$4.24 billion, compared with US$4.39 billion over the same period last year, according to foreign trade director-general Rachain Pojsoonthorn.

Garment exports dropped 6.1 per cent to US$2.46 billion, and accounted for 58 per cent of the sector's total exports. The textile category reported a growth of 0.9 per cent to US$1.74 billion or 42 per cent of total export value.

Exports to the United States, Thailand's largest customer, fell 2.6 per cent to US$1.63 billion. Likewise, exports to the European Union were down 3.6 per cent to US$742 million. Sales to Japan were down by 8.9 per cent while those Hong Kong fell by 5.7 percent from last year.

Despite this decline, exports have rallied in the final two months of the year. So for the 12 months as a whole, garment exports are predicted to be 4 per cent down, while textile exports will be up by around 5 per cent.