WASHINGTON — China’s imports of apparel and textiles this year continue to far surpass the levels of 2004, according to preliminary Commerce Department data.
For instance, China so far in 2005 has accounted for 32.7 percent of the cotton and man-made fiber sweaters imported into the U.S. Last year, when trade was still restricted by quotas, China made up only 6.6 percent of such sweater imports. The quotas were dropped on Jan. 1 among all World Trade Organization countries.
Year-to-date, China has made up 13.1 percent of the imports for synthetic filament fiber, a market for which the country captured only a 2.1 percent share in 2004.
The U.S. is considering imposing safeguard quotas in these and other areas to help domestic producers, whose businesses have been hurt by less expensive goods produced in China, which has lower labor costs. Other imports being reviewed for safeguard protection include knit shirts, bras and dressing gowns. China agreed to the safeguard provision when it joined the WTO in 2001.
The data were drawn from a biweekly report by the Commerce’s Office of Textiles and Apparel. A year-ago comparison was unavailable, as the office just last month began reporting imports every other week to facilitate the safeguard process.
Individual categories of goods from China for the two-week period showed mixed results when compared with the two weeks immediately preceding. Imports of cotton sweaters, for instance, shot up 232.6 percent to 39,581 dozen, while shipments of cotton knit shirts fell 15.2 percent to 127,768 dozen.