Exports of Moroccan ready-made garments and textiles to the EU plunged 9.3 per cent in the first quarter to $363 million from $400m in the year-ago period.

The Moroccan Garment Industry Association baamed  the slide on increased competition from Asian countries and a general fall in demand for ready-made apparel. It added that it expects sales to total $2.8 billion in 2002.

Morocco's textile industry is one of the country's most important and employs nearly 200,000 people in up to 1,500 factories and companies.