Syria, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan may become increasingly important apparel sourcing countries in coming years once ongoing issues around political and human rights have been resolved.

Speaking at the launch of a 'Worldwide Sourcing Study' for the fashion industry, Anne-Laure Linget, international development manager at the French Knitting and Lingerie Federation, said the countries had the potential to become stronger near-sourcing locations for retailers and brands.

Despite its political instability, Syria is still exporting clothing. Between January and September 2011, the country saw a 61% increase in exports to the US against the same period of the previous year, albeit from a small base.

According to the study, Syria was the 16th largest clothing exporter to the US between January and September 2011, with exports valued at EUR6.7m.

"Arab countries will be good in two to three years when they become stable," Linget says.

Cotton producing countries like Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, despite issues around child and forced labour, could also become increasingly important for retailers, brands and importers seeking stable prices and availability.

"Russian companies are already looking at Uzbekistan," she adds.

Highlighting the issues faced by manufacturers when India introduced another ban on cotton exports earlier this year, Linget says: "All cotton-producing bases will become strong sourcing countries; they will be able to continue delivering products through periods of flood or drought."

However, countries like Bangladesh and Vietnam, which don't produce their own cotton, wouldn't be "able to deliver on time and on price," she says.