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Textile Industry Year-End Trade And Economic Report

Doug Ellis, president of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI), reported that despite low inflation and robust consumer spending, rising imports of low-cost Asian textiles put increased pressure on the U.S. textile industry.While U.S. textile exports accounted for more than 11 percent of shipments, our industrys exports slowed in 1998 as Asian markets stumbled, Ellis said. In addition, low-priced apparel from currency-devalued Asian countries surged into the U.S. market and reduced the growth of textile exports to garment makers in the Caribbean.Ellis added that NAFTA was a bright spot, with almost 60 percent of textile exports going to NAFTA partners in 1998.The annual business review by ATMI showed the following: Textile mill shipments softened in 1998 from record 1997 levels. Although fabric production and mill fiber consumption were firmer, textile shipments declined about 3 percent to $81 billion. Textile corporate sales also weakened as the year wore on, off nearly 4 percent to total $65 billion. Textile corporate profits, however, remained firm at about $1.9 billion due to a decrease in raw material costs, which brought operating costs down. The average workweek in the textile industry was nearly 20 minutes shorter in 1998 than in 1997, and the index hours worked in the industry fell 3 percent, reflecting easing business conditions. Textile employment continued to decline in 1998, reaching an average of 598,000 workers, about 3 percent below 1997. Productivity, however, rose. The industry produced, on average, more than 37 square yards per loom hour, up from fewer than 35 square yards per loom hour in 1997.

February 1999




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