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Imports of textiles & apparels maintain steady growth
Jul '08
The United States is the globe's biggest markets for textiles and apparels. Retail apparel purchases across the country touch an estimated $200 billion a year.

Imports account for most of the domestic consumption of apparel. Retailers are increasingly sourcing apparel directly from developing countries. Many apparel companies have altogether winded up their production facilities and instead are concentrating on product design and marketing.

During 2005-2007, total U.S. imports of textiles and apparel from all sources rose 9 percent, from US $89.2 billion to US $96.4 billion. Apparel imports accounted for 76 percent of total sector imports.

China is the biggest exporter of textiles and apparels to the US market. Imports of textiles and apparel from China, the world's largest textile and apparel producer and supplier of one-third of U.S. textile and apparel imports in 2007 rose 44 percent to $32.3 billion.

In 1990 imports from China was only US $3.5 billion and has grown nearly 10 fold since then. As per data, imports from China in 2004 were only US $14.5 billion and have registered an annual growth of nearly 30 percent in the last 3 years.

Imports from Mexico stood at second place at US $5.62 billion and closely followed by India with US $5.10 billion. Vietnam has also made rapid strides at fourth place from just US $ 3 million in 1994 to US $4.55 billion in 2007. Indonesia is one more country from where imports grew from $3.08 billion in 2005 to $4.20 billion in 2007.

The surge in imports from China is attributed to the elimination of quotas in 2005 and also the country's existing competitive advantages of abundant labor, low production costs, strong customer service, and the ability to make almost any type of textile product or garment at all quality levels and in large volumes.

U.S. textile and apparel imports from Mexico, the second leading U.S. supplier, fell 22 percent during the period to $5.6 billion. This decline can be attributed to rising production costs and the subsequent relocation of some apparel production to Central America and the Caribbean, as well as increased competition from China.

Likewise, U.S. imports of apparel from other FTA partners and non-partner suppliers declined during 2005-2007, which is also likely due to increased competition from China and other low-cost Asian suppliers.

During the same period, U.S. exports of textiles and apparel fell 4 percent to just under US $16 billion.

Click here to view import statistics

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