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Textile And Apparel Imports Exports Reach Record Levels

Textile And Apparel Imports,Exports Reach Record LevelsAccording to data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. textile and apparel imports, measured in square-meter equivalents (sme), totaled 32.8 billion sme for the year 2000, a 14.8-percent increase over 1999. In 2000, textile imports alone increased 16 percent over 1999 to reach 16.8 billion sme, while apparel imports rose 13.7 percent to 16 billion sme.U.S. exports of textiles and apparel, measured in dollars, also increased to record levels during 2000. Textile exports of $10.5 billion were 14 percent greater than during 1999; apparel exports totalling $8.2 billion rose 2.7 percent above 1999 levels. These exports consist largely of cut fabric pieces sent abroad for assembly and return to the United States. Textile and apparel imports during December 2000 registered the first monthly decline in imports in four-and-one-half years, with a 0.2-percent decrease.This is a good news/bad news situation for our industry, said American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI) President Roger Chastain.Of course, were grateful that Decembers imports did not increase at the double-digit rates they did throughout the year, but this negligible decrease in December clearly points to a very sluggish retail environment for textile and apparel products, and that is not good news for anybody, least of all domestic manufacturers. Looking at the trade data for all of 2000, we are also faced with a good news/bad news situation. Although textile and apparel imports continued their double-digit growth to record levels, textile and apparel exports have also grown to record levels, Chastain noted. Also, keep in mind that apparel imports from Mexico, the United States leading foreign supplier, and from the Caribbean region contain mostly U.S. fabric and yarn.Apparel imports from Mexico, the United States single largest source of imported apparel, increased 9.5 percent during 2000, while apparel imports from Canada, the United States eighteenth-largest foreign supplier, rose 11.8 percent. This left a 14.6-percent year-to-year increase from the rest of the world.Above-average increases in apparel imports were attributable to Bangladesh, up 25 percent; Indonesia, up 18.4 percent; Thailand, up 21.8 percent; Turkey, up 29.5 percent; and Pakistan, up 39.3 percent.Total textile and apparel imports in 2000 of $18.7 billion were 8.8 percent ahead of year-ago levels and also represented a new record. This was not sufficient, however, to prevent another record textile and apparel trade deficit of $60.8 billion, which was 15 percent greater than the previous record set in 1999.In addition, exports to Mexico increased significantly during the year, rising 15.6 percent above 1999s total. Exports to Canada, the second-largest foreign market for textile and apparel, were up only 1.8 percent, due, again, to the robust U.S. dollar. Exports to Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) countries largely cut-fabric pieces, but also large amounts of linings, trim, sewing thread and other goods needed to assemble apparel rose a healthy 17.6 percent.Together, Canada and Mexico account for half of all U.S. textile and apparel exports, with the CBI group representing an additional 27 percent. Fortunately, our North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners continue to grow as markets for U.S. textiles, remarked Chastain.Without our NAFTA partners, our textile and apparel exports would be $9.6 billion less than they are today. Our experience with NAFTA and the CBI countries shows that the American textile industry can compete and grow if given fair access to foreign markets. Now it is up to our government to get us that kind of long-overdue access in markets, primarily in Asia, that continue to shut us out in defiance of their World Trade Organization obligations. April 2001




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