The figures published by the INE earlier in the day "exceeded ATP estimates that pointed to 5.055 billion euros," the association said in a statement.

Its strategic plan for the sector had set a target for exports of €5 billion by 2020, meaning that this has been reached four years earlier than expected.

That, the ATP said, was thanks to the “strong dynamism that the industry has revealed in recent years, showing itself to be a model benchmark for the Portuguese economy.”

In particular, exports of clothing and knitwear were up 12%, or €227 million, on the year, while cotton thread and cloth, up 19.4% or €27 million.

Portugal thus enjoyed a trade surplus in this sector of €1.151 billion, with exports equivalent to 129% of imports.

The 2016 export total for the sector is just short of the all-time record, achieved in 2001 with €5.075 billion.

The ATP's managing director, Paulo Vaz, noted that the 2016 total was achieved "with half the companies and half the workers" of 2001, exemplifying the huge productivity gains achieved over the period.