The Lithuanian textile industry is the third largest in the world behind China and the United States.
But the country’s textile industry has struggled to adapt to changing patterns of globalisation.
According to a recent study by the International Labour Organization, the global textile industry employed nearly 2.5 million people in 2020.
The country is now facing a wave of cheap and highly skilled labour from the United Kingdom and China, which have both made significant investments in the country.
The UK, which has been leading the European Union’s push for a single market, is one of the biggest contributors to the EU’s textile trade.
But it is also the country that has been hardest hit by the Brexit vote in Britain, with unemployment high and low-skilled labour a major issue.
The government has promised to tackle the issue by introducing a “Made in Lithuania” tariff on the UK’s textile exports.
But while the UK has been trying to attract foreign textile manufacturers, it has not made the same progress in the Lithuanian sector.
There are fears that if Britain withdraws from the EU, Lithuania will be forced to rely more on cheaper and cheaper imported products.
In a bid to protect its industry, the government has recently proposed a tariff on Chinese textiles, with a 30 per cent tax on all imported goods.
The proposed tariffs would only apply to the UK and China.
“The Lithuanian government is very committed to our industry, but there is no guarantee of getting these tariffs in place,” said Katarzyna Kivisildis, president of the Lithuania-based textile trade union.
“If the UK leaves the EU we have to face a very different market, a very much more complicated market.
It is a very dangerous situation for our industry.”
Lithuania has been one of Europe’s leading exporters of textiles and has been exporting more textiles than any other EU member.
Its textile industry employs around 40,000 people and employs around 1.5 billion euros ($2.2 billion) worth of products each year.
But after a three-year government moratorium on importing Chinese textilms, the industry has experienced an exodus of its skilled workforce and some small companies have stopped producing clothing altogether.
Kividesildis told Al Jazeera that it was too early to predict what the impact of Brexit would be on the textile industry.
“We have already seen that there is a huge impact on the industry.
But we cannot predict what will happen,” she said.
The textile industry in Lithuania was once one of Lithuania’s biggest export sectors.
But its exports of textile goods have been down over the past few years and the industry now relies mainly on imports.
Kibisildas says it is hard to predict the impact that Brexit would have on the sector’s future.
“It depends on the negotiations.
The Government is saying they are committed to the textiles sector.
But if we are going to have a free-trade agreement with the UK, we need to agree with the Government that we will have an independent trade policy, which we will never have in the past,” she told Al-Jazeera.
The Lithuania government has also said it is open to working with Britain, which is already one of its biggest trading partners in Europe.
“Lithuania has been a close and strong partner to Britain.
We will continue to provide our services in the EU.
We have already started to make investments in our textile industry and we are working on further steps.
But our focus is on supporting our industries and we want to stay with the EU,” said Kivislavas.