Textile trade officials in Washington are blaming rapidly growing textile and apparel imports –
particularly from China – and slow-growing exports as major factors in the record US
international trade deficit in 2004 of $617.7 billion. The textile and apparel trade deficit
amounted to $73.1 billion, an increase of 8.7 percent over 2003. China’s textile trade deficit was
a record $17.5 billion, up by $3.5 billion. That was a 25-percent increase. In a development that
is of concern to both importers and textile manufacturers, imports from free trade and trade
preference countries like Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean Basin and Central America fell sharply.
Imports from those countries generally contain yarn and fabric made in the participating countries,
including the United States. The American Manufacturing Trade Coalition (AMTAC), which represents
not only textiles, but manufacturers of furniture, dyes and tools, molding, plastics and chemicals,
called for a moratorium on new free trade agreements and urged the US government to aggressively
use access to US markets to force countries such as China to halt what AMTAC calls predatory
practices such as currency manipulation and other types of government subsidies.