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Web Exclusive | April 2018

US imports jump amid tariff threats

Trade war or not, US apparel and textile imports from China surged 22.2 per cent in February to 2.54 billion square meters equivalent (SME) compared to a year earlier, according to the Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles & Apparel. The news comes as the US and China have been volleying huge tariff threats at each other–and in the case of the US, against other countries and trading blocs, too–on a range of products. Overall, industry imports increased 12.4 per cent in February to 5.29 billion SME, with textile shipments rising 15 percent to 3 billion SME year over year, and apparel imports up 9.2 per cent to 2.28 billion SME.

For the year to February, apparel and textile imports rose 7.1 per cent to 10.9 billion SME, with apparel up 4.4 per cent to 4.7 billion SME and textiles ahead 9.3 per cent to 6.2 billion SME. The overall U.S. trade deficit in goods and services increased 1.6 per cent to $57.6 billion in February. February exports rose by $3.5 billion to $204.4 billion but were outpaced by a $4.4 billion gain in imports for the month, to $262. The U.S. trade deficit with China stood at $34.7 billion as of February. With China still by far the top supplier of apparel and textiles to the U.S., all top 10 countries posted increases in imports except India, the second largest supplier for the category, which saw its shipments fall 0.8 per cent to 404.7 million SME.

Cambodia, the ninth largest supplier, posted a gain of 22.4 per cent to 96.9 million SME, and the eighth largest supplier, South Korea—with which the U.S. just renegotiated a free trade agreement—saw imports increase 17.5 per cent to 135.4 million SME. Among other top Asian suppliers, Vietnam’s imports rose 5.7 per cent to 399.7 SME, Bangladesh’s shipments were up 5.1 per cent to 215 million SME, Pakistan’s increased 4.1 per cent to 199.5 million SME and Indonesia’s gained 1.7 per cent to 141.8 million SME. Rounding out the top 10 suppliers were North American neighbors Mexico and Canada, with which the US is said to be closing in on a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mexico’s imports increased 4.7 per cent in the February to 203.4 million SME, while Canada’s shipments rose 4.6 per cent to 86.1 million SME   


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