Garment exporters could still lose orders even though US Customs has lifted entry bond measures introduced to eradicate alleged transshipment irregularities in the territory. At the opening of a textile trade fair, Hong Kong Exporters' Association chairman Willy Lin said the bond issue still needed clarification. US Customs last week said it would scrap entry bonds imposed on eight categories of garments exported from Hong Kong. It also dropped a watch list on which four other categories of Hong Kong exports were awaiting possible bond requirements. The decision was made after officials concluded their second round of factory visits in the territory in February. Mr Lin said garment makers were still under threat because the US could increase a standard bond on all imports. 'They [the US] claim the bonds should be sufficient enough to compensate them for expenses incurred for their monitoring work,' he said. 'That means they still have the power to increase the bonds.' Hong Kong exports to the US declined 4 per cent last year, partly due to the anti-transshipment measures. Despite the alleged threat posed by US Customs, Mr Lin was optimistic about the outlook for the textile industry. He said the first half of this year would be battered by the entry bond measures but orders would improve in the second half once the bond was lifted. He said the economic recovery in Britain and Italy would also bring strong demands to Hong Kong's fashions. Clothing exports to Europe expanded 4 per cent last year. The territory's textile exports reached $106.9 million last year.