By  on September 21, 1994

WASHINGTON -- Textile and apparel imports rose 4.8 percent in July compared with a year ago, in a virtual rerun of their 5.2 percent gain recorded in June, according to Commerce Department data reported Tuesday.

Once again, Mexico posted the strongest growth of all foreign suppliers. During July, its shipments soared 20.7 percent versus a year earlier.

In another development, domestic textile producers, who have been pushing for a change in the rule of origin for apparel imports, alleged the July import report shows clearly that China's manufacturers are taking advantage of a U.S. Customs Service "loophole" to utilize Hong Kong's quotas.

Overall, total textile and apparel imports during July were 1.545 billion square meters equivalent and set a one-month record, eclipsing June's 1.54 billion SME. For the first seven months of the year, they totaled 9.7 billion SME, up 7.5 percent from the same period a year ago. For the year that ended in July, they rose 9.1 percent to 16.5 billion SME.

The pace of apparel imports continued their recent seesaw performance. After jumping 16.2 percent in May and just 3.2 percent in June, apparel imports rose 6.6 percent in July to 794.2 million SME. For the year to date, these imports were up 7.7 percent to 4.6 billion SME and were up 8.2 percent to 7.9 billion SME for the 12 months ending July.

Textile imports continued to moderate. After rising 10.7 percent in May and then 7 percent in June, these imports inched up 3 percent in July to 751.1 million SME. For the first seven months of this year textile imports were up 7.2 percent to 5.1 billion SME, and they rose 9.9 percent to 8.6 billion SME for the year ending in July.

A prime reason for the relative easing of imports has been the near halt in growth of Chinese apparel and textiles. For several years running, these imports invariably rose by double-digit amounts for the month and year to date. Combined U.S. imports from China were up just 2.1 percent, by 4 million SME, to 214 million SME in July, compared with July 1993.

For the first seven months, these textile and apparel imports rose 0.1 percent, or 2 million SME, to 1.2 billion SME.

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