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Textile And Apparel Imports And Exports Show Gains

James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

As the overall U.S. economy is showing signs of improving, both imports and exports of textiles and apparel are on the rise.

Government trade data covering the first quarter of this year show that exports of yarn were up by 23 percent over the comparable period of 2009, and fabric exports increased by 19 percent. At the same time, apparel imports from all sources increased by 11 percent; and yarn imports were up 18 percent and fabric imports, up 19 percent.

China continued to dominate apparel trade, accounting for 80 percent of the increase in U.S. imports, while trade from the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) area was up 9 percent and imports from Mexico were up 9 percent. In the case of Mexico and CAFTA-DR, apparel imports that enter the United States duty-free must contain yarn and fabric made in the United States or the other participating countries.

Of major concern to U.S. textile manufacturers is the fact that much of the apparel import trade with China was in the so-called "sensitive categories" of underwear, trousers and knit shirts, for which import quotas were removed last January. While worldwide trade in these categories was up just 7 percent, U.S. imports of those products from China were up 55 percent.

June 8, 2010