Byline: Carol Emert

WASHINGTON--A drop in shipments from China was more than offset by gains in goods from Mexico and the Caribbean, as textile and apparel imports rose 8.4 percent in October from year-earlier levels.
The imports for the month came to 1.5 billion square meters equivalent, according to data released Tuesday by the Commerce Department.
For the first 10 months of this year, textile and apparel imports rose 8.9 percent to 14.5 billion SME over the same period in 1993. For the year ending October, imports hit 17 billion SME, a 9.2 percent increase over the previous period.
Apparel imports in October jumped 17.7 percent against October 1993 to 783.4 million SME. For the year to date, imports of apparel were up 10.7 percent, totaling 7 billion SME, while for the year ending October incoming shipments totaled 8.2 billion SME, a 10.4 percent gain.
Imports of textiles, meanwhile, remained flat against last October at 734.8 million square meter equivalents. For the first 10 months of the year, textile shipments rose 7.3 percent to 7.4 billion SME. For the 12 months ending in October, textile imports increased 8 percent and totaled 8.8 billion SME.
Donald Foote, director of the agreements division of Commerce's Office of Textiles and Apparel, said overall textile and apparel import growth this year is about the same as last year, approximately 9 percent.
Chinese shipments dropped 13.6 percent last month to 153 million SME. as several categories closed due to quota embargoes. Those categories included cotton print cloth--which has the largest quota of all Chinese goods--cotton bedspreads and quilts, miscellaneous cotton textiles and luggage made from silk blends and vegetable fibers.
The 6.5 percent decrease in shipments to 110 million SME from the European Union was due largely to a drop in man-made fiber yarns. The decline resulted from market conditions, not embargoes, Foote said.
Ron Sorini, senior vice president, international development of Fruit of the Loom and chief textile negotiator in the Bush administration, said the drop in EU fiber shipments may be the result of strengthening economies in Europe and improved internal demand.
Imports from Mexico and the Caribbean surged in October, a trend Sorini described as "good news" because most of that apparel trade uses U.S.-made fabrics and is conducted by U.S. apparel manufacturers.
Mexican shipments soared 46.6 percent, rising to 101 million SME in October. Apparel imports rose 68 percent, while textile imports increased 30.5 percent. In the first 10 months of 1994, those imports have increased 28.7 percent over the comparable 1993 period.
Imports from Caribbean countries, meanwhile, increased 24.8 percent in October to 160 million SME, with apparel rising 26.7 percent and textiles gaining 7.6 percent.
Another large increase came from Turkey, with a 47.3 percent jump in overall shipments in October. For the year to date, textile and apparel shipments from Turkey have increased 55.8 percent.
Sorini said much of this increase is in non-quota goods such as underwear, which the U.S. thinks should be put under quota. Also, Turkey is starting to take advantage of significant quota increases that it was given for its cooperation during the Persian Gulf War, he said.
Among other gainers, shipments from Hong Kong rose 10.5 percent in October and 12 percent for the 10 months. Imports from Taiwan were up 13.4 percent for the month but down 1.3 percent for the 10 months, while imports from Japan jumped 19.4 percent in October and 5.8 percent during the first 10 months of the year.
Sorini, who is active in the American Apparel Manufacturers Association and the American Textile Manufacturers Institute, contended the October gain in imports from Hong Kong in October indicates that some goods are illegal transshipments of Chinese-made product, since Hong Kong prices are too high to support such a gain.
But Julia K. Hughes, divisional vice president, government relations with Associated Merchandising Corp. and chairman of the United States Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel, said there is no evidence in the data to support such claims.
She said the Hong Kong increase may stem in part from strong U.S. demand for wool goods, which is one of Hong Kong's primary exports. Shipments of wool apparel overall rose about 41 percent in October, she noted.
--Fairchild News Service

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