Byline: Jim Ostroff

WASHINGTON--Textile and apparel imports jumped 14.8 percent in August compared with a year ago to set a new monthly record for the third consecutive month.
The gains were paced by Mexico, whose shipments soared 53.3 percent, and China, whose shipments rose 19.6 percent, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday.
Total textile and apparel imports in August came to 1.73 billion square meters equivalent, smashing the previous one-month record of 1.55 billion SME set in July, which eclipsed another record set in June.
For the first eight months of this year, textile and apparel imports totaled 11.4 billion SME, up 8.5 percent from the same period last year. For the 12 months ended in August, they rose 8.6 percent to 16.7 billion SME.
Imports of apparel, which rose a modest 6.6 percent in July, bounded up 15.5 percent to 879.1 million SME in August. In the first eight months, they were up 8.9 percent to 5.5 billion SME and for the year ending in August, they rose 7.9 percent to just under 8 billion SME.
Textile imports jumped 14.1 percent in August to 851.7 million SME, after recording a 3 percent rise in July. For the first eight months of 1994, textile imports were up 8.2 percent to 5.9 billion SME, and for the year ended in August they rose 9.3 percent to 8.7 billion SME.
Cotton products contributed strongly to import growth. Within the textile sector, August's fabric imports rose 8.9 percent to 418 million SME, while yarn imports jumped 14.4 percent to 144.2 million SME. However, imports of cotton yarns and cotton fabrics posted August increases of 43.7 percent and 25.6 percent, respectively. Cotton apparel imports jumped 20.4 percent in August to 430.9 million SME.
Donald Foote, director of the agreements division with Commerce's Office of Textiles and Apparel, said August's steep increase in cotton imports indicates foreign producers apparently no longer face the raw cotton shortage that drove prices higher and held back import volumes.
During August, Mexico overtook South Korea as the U.S.'s fifth leading supplier of textile and apparel imports, after trailing close behind for more than a year. For the month, Mexico's shipments totaled 99 million SME. Much of this growth was made possible by the North American Free Trade Agreement, analysts say.
--Fairchild News Service

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