WASHINGTON--The U.S. textile industry reported its third consecutive strong year in 1994, according to the annual business review compiled by the American Textile Manufacturers Institute. Profits after taxes were estimated at $2 billion, up 39 percent from $1.44 billion in 1993, the review said. However, the ATMI pointed out, the large profit gain was due to a sharp drop in nonoperating expenses, including 1993 restructuring writeoffs and gains on asset sales during 1994. Results overall, though, were buoyed by the generally strong U.S. economy, the ATMI said, with capital spending, sales, exports, shipments and mill fiber consumption all hitting record levels. The only dim note, from the perspective of the industry in the United States, was the increase in imports, which also set a record. In addition to the profit gain, the review pinpointed these results: Capital spending on new plants and equipment rose 4 percent to $2.37 billion. Textile shipments gained 5 percent to $73.8 billion, although corporate sales rose only 1 percent to $63 billion. Earnings on sales came to 3.2 percent, up from 2.3 percent in 1993. Textile employment was marginally down, from 675,000 jobs in 1993 to 672,000 in 1994. Textile exports rose 6 percent to $6.25 billion, but textile imports increased an estimated 8 percent to $9.5 billion. The 1994 textile and apparel trade deficit also set a record high of $35.8 billion. Commenting on the results, ATMI president William J. Armfield 4th, vice chairman of Unifi Inc., said, "The increase in capital expenditures again this year underscores the industry's strong commitment to be globally competitive. The North American Free Trade Agreement has been a positive force for the industry in 1994, while the devaluation of the peso could slow our exports to Mexico in 1995." With the implementation of GATT, Armfield continued, "the U.S. textile industry will be looking for new trade opportunities as foreign markets begin to open up." He said, "Several companies have already invested in joint ventures in foreign markets." "The phaseout of the Multi-Fiber Arrangement will lead to larger import quotas, but for the next four to five years these quotas will not grow significantly," he said. "We hope to develop overseas markets during that period and use the World Trade Organization procedures to attack closed markets and unfair trade practices in other countries."
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