NEW YORK — China’s market share in the categories of goods for which the U.S. may impose safeguard quotas continued to surge during the past two weeks, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Commerce Department.
China is already the U.S.’s largest supplier of imported textiles and apparel, and has rapidly gained share in many categories since World Trade Organization countries dropped their quotas on Jan. 1. For instance, through April 9, China produced 44.7 percent of the cotton and man-made-fiber dressing gowns imported into the the U.S., up from a 26.5 percent market share for all of last year. In the cotton and man-made- fiber sweaters category its growth was more pronounced, rising to 32.9 percent market share, up from 6.6 percent last year.
Commerce’s Office of Textiles & Apparel this month began publishing reports every two weeks showing preliminary import data of apparel and textiles, responding to criticism that its full monthly import reports lag the market by about six weeks. Full February import figures were released on Tuesday.
U.S. officials said this month that they would review imports of several categories of goods from China — including knit shirts, sweaters, bras, pants, dressing gowns and synthetic-fiber fabrics — to determine if they were causing market disruption. If that occurred, WTO rules allow importing countries to place one-year caps on Chinese shipments, which are renewable through 2008.
China’s market share has risen from last year in all the categories that the U.S. has begun to review. (See chart, this page.)
“Every week the numbers become more enormous and China will take the market in no time at all,” said Cass Johnson, president of the National Council of Textile Organizations, a lobbying group for domestic manufacturers.
Julia Hughes, vice president for the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles & Apparel, contended that after an initial surge of imports early in the year, the growth rate in many categories of goods appears to have slowed.
“It’s still at a higher level than it would have been,” with quotas in place, she acknowledged. “But it’s rising at a more moderate pace than it did in early January and February.”