Trade war or not, U.S. apparel and textile imports from China surged 22.2% in February to 2.54 billion square meters equivalent (SME) compared to a year earlier, according to the Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles & Apparel.
The news comes as the U.S. and China have been volleying huge tariff threats at each other–and in the case of the U.S., against other countries and trading blocs, too–on a range of products.
Overall, industry imports increased 12.4% in February to 5.29 billion SME, with textile shipments rising 15 percent to 3 billion SME year over year, and apparel imports up 9.2% to 2.28 billion SME.
For the year to February, apparel and textile imports rose 7.1% to 10.9 billion SME, with apparel up 4.4% to 4.7 billion SME and textiles ahead 9.3% to 6.2 billion SME.
The overall U.S. trade deficit in goods and services increased 1.6% to $57.6 billion in February. February exports rose by $3.5 billion to $204.4 billion but were outpaced by a $4.4 billion gain in imports for the month, to $262. The U.S. trade deficit with China stood at $34.7 billion as of February.
With China still by far the top supplier of apparel and textiles to the U.S., all top 10 countries posted increases in imports except India, the second largest supplier for the category, which saw its shipments fall 0.8% to 404.7 million SME. Cambodia, the ninth largest supplier, posted a gain of 22.4% to 96.9 million SME, and the eighth largest supplier, South Korea—with which the U.S. just renegotiated a free trade agreement—saw imports increase 17.5% to 135.4 million SME.
Among other top Asian suppliers, Vietnam’s imports rose 5.7% to 399.7 SME, Bangladesh’s shipments were up 5.1% to 215 million SME, Pakistan’s increased 4.1% to 199.5 million SME and Indonesia’s gained 1.7% to 141.8 million SME.
Rounding out the top 10 suppliers were North American neighbors Mexico and Canada, with which the U.S. is said to be closing in on a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mexico’s imports increased 4.7% in the February to 203.4 million SME, while Canada’s shipments rose 4.6% to 86.1 million SME.