In the midst of a war of words over trade that could lead to a real trade war, China’s exports to the U.S. of textiles and apparel nosedived 10.9% to 2 billion square meter equivalents (SME) in April, maintaining its top spot of major suppliers, but losing market share to its Asian rivals, and even to Mexico and Canada.
This didn’t stop textile and apparel shipments to the U.S. from increasing 1.1% in April to 4.99 billion (SME) compared to a year earlier, led by major increases from Pakistan, Bangladesh, South Korea, India and Cambodia, according to the Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles & Apparel (OTEXA). Textile imports rose 1.4% to 3.01 billion SME in the month, while apparel shipments coming into the U.S. grew 0.7% to 1.99 billion SME.
For the year to date, industry imports were up 5 percent to 20.57 billion SME. Textile shipments rose 7.7% to 12.04 billion SME and apparel imports increased 1.5% to 8.53 billion SME.
U.S. imports from Pakistan rose 23.2% to 217.7 million SME, shipments from South Korea increased 20.7% to 163.6 million SME and imports from Bangladesh gained 20 percent to 221.3 million SME. Among the rest of the top 10 suppliers, imports from India were up 16.3% to 462 million SME, Vietnam rose 7.7% to 437.7 million SME, Mexico gained 8.2% to 219.2 million SME, Indonesia advanced 6.8% to 150.3 million SME and what Canada shipped to the U.S. rose 14.7% to 101.9 million SME.
In dollar terms, China’s exports to the U.S. in April fell 12 percent to $2.3 billion, as industry imports overall rose 3.9% to $8.02 billion. Among the top 10 suppliers, imports from India rose 13.2% to $707.27 million, Pakistan’s shipments increased 24.5% to $236.98 million, Bangladesh’s grew 16.8% to $460.88 million, Vietnam’s were up 6 percent to $978.22 million, South Korea’s rose 6.8% to $73.54 million, Cambodia’s increased 27.8% to $218.32 million and Indonesia’s were up 11.3% to $426.48 million.
Among the U.S. partners in the North American Free Trade Agreement currently facing uncertainty over ongoing renegotiations, imports from Mexico rose 8 percent to $375.73 million and Canada’s U.S.-bound shipments increased 25 percent to $118.37 million.
Egypt cracked the Top 10 with a 35.6% gain to $82.5 million.
The overall trade deficit in goods and services–the bugaboo of President Trump that has apparently led him to seek to impose punitive tariffs on China, Mexico, Canada, the European Union and others–fell $1 billion to $46.2 billion in April, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. April exports were $211.2 billion, $600 million more than in March, and April imports were $257.4 billion, $400 billion less than the previous month.