Ramie is one of the oldest fibre crops, used for at least six thousand years. It is mainly used for fabric production. Ramie is normally harvested two to three times a year but under good growing conditions can be harvested up to six times per year. Unlike other fibre crops, ramie needs chemical processing to de-gum the fibre.
China leads in the production of ramie and exports mainly to Japan and Europe. Other producers include Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Brazil. Only a small percentage of the ramie produced is available on the international market. Japan, Germany, France and the UK are the main importers, the remaining supply is used domestically.