NAFTA RULES FEED FIBER TRADE, USE
NEW YORK — The advent of NAFTA rules has boosted trade of manufactured fiber and consumption of mill fiber for Mexico, Canada and the U.S., according to a report from the Fiber Economic Bureau.
Since the inception of NAFTA in 1995, manufactured fiber trade to NAFTA countries from the U.S. has grown strongly, up 18 percent in 1996 and 16 percent in 1997, to 514 million pounds in ’97, according to the Fiber Organon, a publication of the FEB.
For Canada, growth has been more modest, up 7 percent in 1995, 13 percent in 1996 and 1 percent in 1997, to 302 million pounds in ’97.
Mexico experienced slightly more erratic growth for the same three-year span, posting a 41 percent increase in 1995, an 11 percent decline in 1996 and 1 percent growth in 1997. Fiber trade totaled 214 million pounds as of the end of 1997.
The FEB is a subsidiary of the American Fiber Manufacturers Association, and reports on the U.S. manufactured fiber industry and its products, including acrylic, nylon, polyester, olefin, rayon, glass and other fibers.
Generally, the FEB noted, NAFTA trade in fibers reflects increased production flexibility and economies among the three countries, allowing each to make the most of its products and plant capacity.
“While NAFTA trade in fibers has been a positive in increasing plant efficiencies in North American fiber production,” FEB said, “the agreement has shown its most dramatic impact in growth of trade in textile products downstream of fiber, a growth based on North American fiber shipments.”
North American mill fiber consumption, which included Canada, Mexico and the U.S., increased 6.4 percent for all fibers to 12.72 million pounds in 1997, its highest level ever. Growth in ’97 was more than double the North American growth rate of 3 percent per year from 1992 to 1997. Mill fiber growth in 1997 was 8.3 percent to 789 million pounds in Canada, 20.2 percent to 1.905 million pounds in Mexico and 5.2 percent to 16.582 million pounds in the U.S.
The FEB said the dramatic growth pattern in mill consumption in the three countries is a clear reflection of the impact of NAFTA on products downstream of fibers and its success in making North America highly competitive with exporting countries around the world.
Fiber data also tracked shifts in fiber market share. Over the past five years, North American mill fiber consumption has shifted 1 percent in market share from manufactured fibers to cotton, indicating a change in consumer demand for cotton products, primarily apparel. The Organon reported a gradual erosion of wool’s share of the market from 1.2 percent to 0.9 percent during that time.