By  on January 13, 2010

WASHINGTON — The volume of textiles and apparel shipped to the U.S. rose slightly in November, and six of the top 10 suppliers showed positive growth after months of declines blamed on low demand.

Textile and apparel imports to the U.S. increased 2.1 percent in November compared with a year earlier to 3.8 billion square meter equivalents, the Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles & Apparel said Tuesday. Textile shipments to the U.S. showed a greater increase, rising 3.5 percent to 2.1 billion SME, while apparel imports advanced 0.5 percent to 1.7 billion SME.

“Import volumes rose, not surprisingly, since U.S. activity is picking up and inventory slashing is coming to an end,” said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist for IHS Global Insight. “We believe that the trade deficit will widen as the recovery proceeds, with imports bouncing more than exports as domestic demand rises.”

The overall U.S. trade deficit rose to $36.4 billion in November from $33.2 billion in October, driven mostly by an uptick in import volumes and higher fuel prices.

Driven by textiles, industry imports from Vietnam increased 18.8 percent to 175 million SME in November compared with a year earlier. Textile imports from Vietnam were up 86.3 percent to 53 million SME in November, while apparel shipments rose 2.6 percent to 122 million SME.

Imports from China rose 13.1 percent to 1.7 billion SME, led by apparel shipments that jumped 21.5 percent to 714 million SME, while textile imports increased a more modest 7.9 percent to 1 billion SME.

Shipments from Mexico increased 13.4 percent to 206 million SME, reversing months of declines from the country. Indonesia increased its import volume 7.2 percent to 114 million SME. Canada’s shipments rose 2.2 percent to 99 million SME, while imports from Pakistan increased 1.4 percent to 214 million SME.

Bangladesh saw November textile and apparel volume fall 12 percent to 96 million SME in year-over-year comparisons. Shipments from Honduras declined 16 percent in November to 92 million SME, continuing a downward trend following a military coup over the summer. South Korea’s imports fell 8.2 percent to 122 million SME.

The top five apparel suppliers to the U.S. in November were China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Honduras. China was also the top textile source, followed by Pakistan, India, South Korea and Mexico.

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