By  on April 12, 2006

WASHINGTON — In a dramatic but most likely temporary reversal, apparel and textile imports from China fell 10.4 percent in February against a year ago, the first such decline since September 2001.

The drop, which is related to restrictions in a U.S.-China accord signed in November and steep increases from the country a year ago, came just a day after American officials told their Chinese counterparts to do more to correct imbalances in the trading relationship.

China is still by far the largest exporter of apparel and textiles to the U.S., with shipments of 1.1 billion square meter equivalents, worth $1.5 billion, arriving in February.

Apparel shipments from the country retreated 25.9 percent for month, while textiles saw a downturn of 1.6 percent.

“Last year was kind of an aberration in terms of the level of imports, particularly early in the year,” said Julia Hughes, vice president of international trade at the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles & Apparel. “We’re seeing a return to normal patterns."

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