WASHINGTON — Led by major gains from Asian countries, textile and apparel imports to the U.S. surged in June, as retailers restocked inventories.
Combined shipments of textiles and apparel to the U.S. rose 36.1 percent to 5.2 billion square meter equivalents compared with a year earlier, the Commerce Department Office of Textiles & Apparel said Wednesday. Apparel imports advanced 25.8 percent to 2.2 billion SME, while textile shipments increased 45.1 percent to 3 billion SME.
The overall trade deficit expanded to $49.9 billion in June from $42 billion in May as the U.S. economy slowed. A jump in imports, driven by consumer goods and cars, widened the deficit more than expected, said Nigel Gault, chief U.S. economist with IHS Global Insight.
“The burst in imports associated with restocking is probably reaching its climax, since underlying final sales growth remains weak and firms will want to avoid an excessive inventory build-up, so the trade deficit should improve in coming months,” Gault said.
All of the top 10 suppliers posted double-digit growth. Combined textile and apparel imports from China, the leading U.S. supplier, spiked 52.4 percent in June to 2.6 billion SME. Shipments of apparel rose 33.1 percent to 959 million SME, and textile imports advanced 66.9 percent to 1.6 billion SME.
Combined shipments of textiles and apparel from India, the second-largest supplier to the U.S., increased 32.6 percent to 292 million SME. Apparel shipments from India rose 10.2 percent to 85 million SME, and textile imports increased 44.7 percent to 207 million SME. Pakistan, the third-largest supplier, shipped 11.4 percent more textiles and apparel to the U.S., reaching 277 million SME. Apparel shipments rose 17.1 percent to 68 million SME and textile imports were up 9.7 percent to 209 million SME.
The fourth-largest supplier, Vietnam, increased combined shipments 32.9 percent to 252 million SME in June. Shipments of apparel to the U.S. from Vietnam advanced 22.4 percent to 162 million SME, while textile imports grew 57.5 percent to 90 million SME.
Cambodia’s apparel shipments to the U.S. rose 44.4 percent to 76 million SME in June. Cambodia is not one of the U.S.’ top 10 textile suppliers.
South Korea showed signs that it could be regaining some lost ground, posting its first import gain in months after lagging behind a recovery by other major suppliers. Shipments of apparel and textiles from South Korea rose 14.6 percent in June to 127 million SME.
The top five apparel suppliers to the U.S. in June were: China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Honduras. China was also the top textile supplier, followed by Pakistan, India, Mexico and South Korea.