By  on February 11, 2010

WASHINGTON — The volume of textile and apparel shipments to the U.S. declined in 2009 amid the global recession, even as imports from China and Vietnam continued to rise.

The overall U.S. trade gap widened in December to $40.2 billion, compared with $36.4 billion in November, primarily because of a surge in oil imports.

Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist for IHS Global Insight, said U.S. exports are likely to grow but imports will be subject to fluctuations as the global economy rights itself. Despite the wider trade deficit in December, he said, “It is hard to describe the trade figures as bad news, since they show a continuing robust rebound in world trade.”

Textile and apparel imports dropped 7.5 percent to 46.6 billion square meter equivalents compared with 2008, the Commerce Department Office of Textiles and Apparel said Wednesday. Apparel shipments for the year fell 6.1 percent to 21.3 billion SME. Textile shipments were down 8.6 percent to 25.3 billion SME.

Textile and apparel imports from China rose a total of 0.5 percent to 20.7 billion SME. Apparel shipments advanced 10.7 percent to 8.6 billion SME. Textile imports declined 5.7 percent to 12.1 billion SME.

Shipments from Vietnam were up 20.8 percent to 2.2 billion SME. Shipments of apparel increased 5.5 percent to 1.6 billion SME, and textile imports spiked 101.4 percent to 581 million SME.

Imports from Bangladesh slid 2.9 percent to 1.6 billion SME. Apparel shipments declined 3.7 percent to 1.4 billion SME, and textile imports rose 1.6 percent to 232 million SME.

Indonesian imports were also down, shrinking 7.4 percent to 1.5 billion SME. Shipments from Honduras dropped 23.8 percent to 1 billion SME after political turmoil during the summer. Imports from Pakistan dropped 8.3 percent to 2.7 billion SME, and shipments from India declined 3.6 percent to 2.7 billion SME. Apparel and textile shipments from South Korea declined 13.4 percent to 1.5 billion SME.

In North America, imports from Mexico were down 15.3 percent to 2.2 billion SME, and shipments from Canada dropped 12.2 percent to 1.2 billion SME.

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