Once again, China has become the number one exporter of textiles and apparel to the United States.
The latest US Commerce Department data covering the 12 months ending in November 2002 show China
has surpassed Mexico as the leading exporter of textiles and apparel, as a result, in part, of a
major surge in products that recently were removed from quota limitations. Chinese imports in the
12-month period amounted to 4.4 billion square meter equivalents, an increase of 117 percent over
the same period of 2001. The last time China was the leading exporter was in 1995, but by 1996
trade with Mexico took over the number one spot as a result of the North American Free Trade
Agreement (NAFTA). Most of the Mexican apparel imports contained US yarn and fabric. Mexico fell
into second place last year, as its 4.0 billion sme were up only 1 percent over the previous year.
Canada was in third place with 3.1 billion sme and had a 3 percent increase over the previous year.
Last August the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMIT) filed a petition with the US
Department of Commerce seeking reimposition of quotas on Chinese products where triple digit
increases in imports have occurred. Under a bilateral agreement with China, the US reserves the
right to take such action if it can be demonstrated the imports have become excessive and are
resulting in market disruption. Up until now, the Commerce Department has not acted on the