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Textile and Apparel Imports Up, Pushed by Surge From Asian Makers

Led by significant gains among key Asian suppliers that had been sluggish so far this year, apparel and textile imports to the U.S. increased 11.1% in May to 5.5 billion square meter equivalents compared to April, and were up 3.7% from a year earlier, according to the Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles & Apparel.

Textile imports rose 12.4% to 3.35 billion SME for the month and 3.8% from May 2016, while apparel imports increased 8.6% to 2.14 billion SME from April and gained 3.7% year-to-year.

China’s apparel and textile imports to the U.S. increased 16 percent in volume in May to 2.61 SME and was up 6 percent year-to-year, while the countries shipments gained 14.1% in value to $2.99 billion for the month and 0.8% for the year. The value of China’s imports are still down 4.5% for the year to date, with volume ahead 4.9%.

India’s May imports rose 15.6% to 464.3 million SME compared to April and 13.9% for a year earlier, with a 7.5% increase in value to $673.1 million, representing a 10.6% annual gain.

Pakistan also saw a surge, with its shipments up 35.9% to 240 SME for the month and 9.3% for the year, as the value of its goods entering the U.S. increased 28.8% in the month to $245.4 million for a 4.4% annual increase. Bangladesh’s shipments rebounded with a 8.9% month-to-month rise to 201 million SME, with a 7.7% gain in value to $425.2 million.

Perhaps losing some stream from the promise of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Vietnam’s imports to the U.S. struggled in May, falling 2.9% to 394.7 million SME, but were still up 4.7% year-to-year and 8.9% year-to-date.

In the Western Hemisphere, Honduras’ imports to the U.S. surged 15.1% to 99.9 million SME in May, representing a 6.5% annual gain, with the value of its shipments rising 19.6% month-to-month and 3.5% from May 2016 to $225.4 million. Honduras has a emerged as a key two-way trade partner in the Central American Free Trade Agreement.

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While the fate of the North American Free Trade Agreement remains in question, Mexico remained the fifth-largest supplier of apparel and textiles in volume year-to-date with a 2.9% increase to 1.03 billion SME, as the value of its goods entering the country rising 5.1% to $1.88 billion.

[For more on trade policy read: Next in Trade: Will China and Mexico do a Free Trade Deal?]

Total year-to-date imports were up 2.6% to 25.1 billion SME, as textile imports gained 2.7% to 14.6 billion SME and apparel imports rose 2.5% to 10.5 billion SME.

For the year through May, imports advanced 0.6% to 63.6 billion SME, with textile shipments increasing 1.2% to 36.4 billion SME and apparel imports slipping 0.4% to 27.2 billion SME.

U.S. apparel and textile exports increased 0.05% for the first five months of the year to $9.21 billion compared to the same period in 2016. NAFTA partners Mexico and Canada were the top destinations, followed by Honduras, China and the U.K.

The overall U.S. goods and services deficit was $46.5 billion in May, down 0.2% from April, led by an increase in the services surplus of $200 million.