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Textile And Apparel Imports Continue To Surge Exports To NAFTA CBI Countries Remain Strong

Fueled by a strong domestic economy, the continuing expansion of trade between the United States and its NAFTA partners, and the desperation of Asian exporters to earn U.S. dollars, imports of textiles and apparel reached record levels during the first half of 2000, the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI) reported.However, the trade figures also showed that U.S. textile and apparel exports to NAFTA and Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) nations remain strong.According to U. S. Commerce Department data, during the first six months of the year, textile imports of 8.44 billion square meter equivalents (sme) shot up 22 percent over the comparable period in 1999, while apparel imports of 7.6 billion sme showed a 16 percent gain. The combined total of 16 billion sme represents an increase of 19 percent over the comparable period in 1999. U.S. textile exports continued to show strong growth, rising 12 percent to $5.2 billion during the first six months of the year over the comparable period in 1999. Textile exports to NAFTA partner Mexico continued to surge, up 45 percent, to reach a record $1.9 billion and accounting for 35 percent of all U.S. textile exports. Textile exports to Canada showed 3 percent growth, totaling $1.4 billion for the first half of the year. Textile exports to CBI nations, after a fall-off last year, increased by 6 percent to $389 million during the first half of this year. In addition, U.S. exports of cut pieces of apparel fabric to CBI countries rebounded after a fall-off last year, rising 5.7 percent to reach $2.1 billion.ATMI President Roger W. Chastain underscored the point that, despite the still-robust economic situation, the textile business remains challenging and second-quarter industry indicators have softened. He noted that producer prices for textile goods remained well below pre-Asian-crisis levels, and competition from low-cost Asian textiles continues to put downward pressure on prices. "Although consumer spending slowed, expenditures on services and non-durables, which include apparel, remain firm," he said.

October 2000