By  on November 11, 2004

WASHINGTON — Apparel and textile imports from China drove global shipments to the U.S. in the twin sectors to the highest September and nine-month period on record.

The import picture was revealed Wednesday in the Commerce Department’s trade report that came as the Bush administration begins a full review of six safeguard petitions that seek to restrict Chinese imports.

While worldwide imports of textiles and apparel rose by 368.1 million square meters equivalent in September to 4.1 billion SME, Chinese exports to the U.S. increased by 295.1 million SME, a 36.7 percent jump to 1.09 billion SME. In the first nine months of the year, imports of apparel and textiles from China rose 45.9 percent, far surpassing the growth in global imports, to 8.7 billion SME. Global imports of textiles and apparel increased 10.6 percent to 35.1 billion SME for the year-to-date.

China continued to post its biggest import increases and dominate in categories no longer under quota, such as quilts and comforters, tablecloths and napkins, man-made fiber woven bags, luggage and infants’ wear. China controlled 24.2 percent of the apparel and textile import market in the U.S. for the year ended Sept. 30. In textiles, China had a 31.2 percent share of U.S. imports for the 12 months and had a 14.5 percent share in apparel.

Many of the top 10 suppliers of apparel and textiles to the U.S. showed strong penetration in the U.S. in the first three quarters of the year. Shipments from Mexico, the second largest textile and apparel supplier, rose 5.3 percent during that period, while imports from Pakistan, the fourth largest supplier, gained 11.9 percent. Exports to the U.S. advanced 14.3 percent from South Korea, 13.3 percent from India and 11.1 percent from Indonesia.

Other countries in the top 10 posted declines in imports for the year to date. Canada, the third-largest supplier, saw a 1.7 percent drop, Taiwan’s shipments were off 5.7 percent and Thailand posted a 0.3 percent dip.

The U.S. trade deficit for all goods narrowed in September to $51.6 billion due to a weakening dollar that boosted exports. For the first nine months, the apparel and textile trade deficit was $54.6 billion, a 6.7 percent gain from the year-ago period.

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