WASHINGTON — Apparel and textile imports posted their third-straight month of double-digit increases in July.
Combined shipments of textiles and apparel rose 23.2 percent in July to 5.2 billion square meter equivalents compared with a year earlier, the Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles & Apparel said Thursday.
Apparel imports rose 14.3 percent to 2.3 billion SME, while textile shipments increased 31.3 percent to 2.9 billion SME.
The overall trade deficit decreased to $42.8 billion in July from $49.8 billion in June, the Commerce Department said. Import levels were down for the month and export growth was driven primarily by an increase in aircraft deliveries, said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist with IHS Global Insight.
“The sharp fall in the trade deficit in July indicates that the burst in imports associated with restocking reached its peak in June. Underlying final sales growth remains weak and firms want to avoid an excessive inventory build-up. We expect imports to fall further in August,” Gault said.
The majority of the top 10 textile and apparel suppliers continued to increase shipments to the U.S. in July, but at a slower pace than in June. Import volume in July was the second highest monthly level since 2005; the June mark was the highest.
Combined shipments of textiles and apparel from China rose 33.8 percent to 2.6 billion SME. Apparel imports rose 19.3 percent to 1.1 billion SME, while textile shipments spiked 46 percent to 1.5 billion SME.
The second largest U.S. supplier, India, increased combined imports 16.7 percent to 265 million SME. Apparel imports dropped 3.3 percent to 72 million SME, and textile shipments rose 26.6 percent to 192 million SME.
Shipments from Vietnam rose 29 percent to 250 million SME in July. Apparel imports rose 15.4 percent to 166 million SME and textile imports increased 67.3 percent to 85 million SME.
Combined shipments from Honduras spiked 46.3 percent to 128 million SME, driven mostly by a 49.3 percent increase in apparel shipments to 126 million SME. Honduras is not a major textile supplier for the U.S.
Indonesia’s combined shipments rose 19.3 percent to 152 million SME. Apparel imports rose 13 percent to 101 million SME, while textile shipments increased 34.3 percent to 51 million SME.
Import volume from Pakistan, the third-largest U.S. supplier, fell 1 percent to 247 million SME, dragged down by falling textile shipments. Pakistan’s apparel imports rose 4.4 percent to 65 million SME while textile shipments declined 2.7 percent to 182 million SME. Shipments from Bangladesh also declined, falling 3.4 percent to 134 million SME in July.
The top five apparel suppliers to the U.S. in July were China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Honduras. China was also the top textile supplier, followed by Pakistan, India, Mexico and South Korea.