MILAN, Feb 7 (Reuters) - The Italian fashion industry's revenues rose 1.9 percent last year, beating expectations, and are forecast to keep growing in 2017 despite uncertainty linked to U.S and British politics, an industry body said on Tuesday.
Sales in the fashion sector, one of the country's biggest, increased to 84.1 billion euros ($89.78 billion) last year, above the 83.6 billion euros estimated last September, according to the national fashion association Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana (CNMI).
Growth was mainly due to domestic sales, particularly in the middle of last year, after a negative first quarter, the CNMI said in a statement.
"These numbers, in this difficult market are very comforting", CNMI president Carlo Capasa said.
Sales in the first six months of this year are expected to increase by 0.8 percent even though uncertainty linked to the new U.S. administration and to Britain's decision to leave the European Union is likely to affect foreign sales, the CNMI said.
"Italian fashion is already highly taxed on its U.S. exports, and we hope that there won't be any additional levies on our products, as these could make us sell less," Capasa told reporters when asked about the possibility of import taxes being raised by U.S. President Donald Trump, who has signalled a more protectionist stance.
Italy's fashion sector comprises 66,000 companies making clothes, accessories, jewellery and cosmetics and employs almost 630,000 workers.
Consultants Bain & Company said last October they expected the traditional luxury sector to grow by 1-2 percent in 2017.
Revenues for Italian fashion group Giorgio Armani, the country's second biggest after Prada, fell 5 percent last year and its founder said 2017 would continue to be complicated for the sector as a whole.
Luxury goods maker Salvatore Ferragamo, Italy's sixth largest fashion company, said sales last year rose just 1 percent and were down 2 percent at constant currencies.
Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive of France's LVMH, the world's biggest luxury group, last month predicted a "relatively easy" first half of 2017 for the group, but warned the second half could be "more difficult".
$1 = 0.9368 euros Reporting by Giulia Segreti and Claudia Cristoferi; Editing by Adrian Croft