Tunisia's core textile exports stayed mainly static throughout January and February 2005, despite fears that the country's industry would lose out to cheaper textiles from China and India after World Trade Organisation quotas expired at the start of the year.

According to government figures, textile exports throughout the period totalled TND888.1 million compared to TND894.5m in the same period last year.

Textile exports are currently Tunisia's largest source of export revenue - recording a 5.0 per cent increase last year - as well as being the country's second biggest employer after more labour-intensive agriculture.

Industry officials had expressed fears in the run up to quota expiration that the liberalisation of textiles trading within the European Union would lead to job losses and exacerbate the trade deficit.

However, conversely, the statistics produced by the government's National Statistics Institute showed the country's foreign trade deficit as being reduced during January and February this year.