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International Trade Administration Ranks Top Export Countries for US Manufacturers

Taking the guesswork out of where the next key export market will be for manufacturers, the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration Bureau (ITA) released its latest report ranking the top markets for American makers to take their wares.

ITA put out 19 unique Top Markets reports for different industries, analyzing and ranking each country based on historical trends, current challenges and future opportunities.

“The team at ITA works hard to help American businesses not only compete but win in the global marketplace,” U.S. under secretary for commerce and international trade Stefan M. Selig said in a statement. “These reports, which include more than 200 pieces of individually-viewable market intelligence and new country case studies, will help arm our clients with the needed tools to make sound, strategic decisions regarding market expansion opportunities, and help add to the estimated 11.5 million American jobs supported by exports.”

Technical textiles, according to the ITA, is one market ripe for opportunity.

“The global demand for a variety of such textiles has continuously increased as a result of their rising base of applications in end-use industries,” ITA said, adding that forecasts for global demand in U.S. technical textiles show a 4 percent annual increase through 2017, reaching $9.3 billion by that year. And that demand will be further fueled by innovation, new technology and trade relationships under current and future agreements.

ITA identified nine key markets where U.S. manufacturers could see growth in technical textiles exports: Brazil, Canada, China, India, Korea, Mexico, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam. Currently, Mexico and Canada are the two largest markets for American technical textiles, accounting for 55 percent of the total trade.

Brazil has been having a rough go of things, and its economy is expected to contract a further 4 percent this year, but the ITA says the country isn’t to be overlooked when it comes to technical textiles exports.

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“The technical textile industry in a key export-driven country such as Brazil continues to rapidly develop with investment from both domestic and foreign multinational companies,” the report noted.

Brazil’s technical textiles sector presently has more than 200 companies operating in the country, employing roughly 40,000 people, and the local market is quickly developing, with more textile manufacturers focusing on this type of production.

“U.S. exporters have been taking advantage of this growth, increasing exports to Brazil by 20 percent from 2008 to 2015,” according to the report. By comparison, U.S. exports of non-wovens to Brazil increased a lower 8 percent in that time.

Demand for technical textiles overall has grown by more than 50 percent in the last 10 years, but the industry—as any—is susceptible to overcapacity and price competition. The key for U.S. manufacturers, even in markets like Canada where much of America’s technical textiles already go, will be innovation.

“Canada imports nine times more per capita in textiles compared to the United States and three times as much as the European Union (EU),” according to the report. “Competition in the Canadian market is very strong, but U.S. exporters are competitive in the technical textile sector, where textile components are used in the energy, agriculture, construction and automobile sectors.”

Last year, Canada took in $240 million, or 27 percent, of U.S. protective apparel exports as technical textiles have taken on greater importance. U.S. manufacturers will find the greatest opportunity in niche markets like high-performance outerwear, high altitude clothing and sportswear, and high-performance wool apparel.

“Growth is certainly continuing in the technical textiles market. Increased demand for technical textiles will be seen in both the developed and developing parts of the world,” according to the report. “This can be attributed to factors such as rising incomes and an increasing standard of living along with advances in medical technology, expanding construction sectors, an awareness of safety and environmentalism and increased spending on healthcare.”