Year-end trade numbers released by the US government yesterday show that the United States ran a $73.1 billion trade deficit in textiles and apparel in 2004 - 8.7 per cent higher than 2003's trade deficit of $67.2 billion. 

US imports of textiles and apparel totalled $89.25 billion in 2004, with $82.84 coming in under the auspices of the now-expired Multi-Fiber Agreement (MFA). In comparison, 2004 US exports of textiles and apparel totalled $16.15 billion.

The US trade deficit in textiles and apparel with China increased by a whopping 25.3 per cent to $17.5 billion in 2004. The 2003 deficit figure was $14.0 billion.

In terms metric volume under the MFA, China holds a 25.02 per cent share of US import market share for textiles and apparel as of year-end 2004 - an increase of 40.74 per cent from the previous year. 

The year-end figures for the Chinese share of the US import market in 2002 and 2003 were 12.96 and 19.63 per cent respectively. 

In dollar terms under the MFA, China accounted for 17.57 per cent of all textile and clothing imports to the United States as of year-end 2004. The year-end figures for 2002 and 2003 were 12.11 and 14.99 per cent respectively.

"These numbers show that China…already is the dominant player in the US textile and apparel market," said American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition director Auggie Tantillo.

"With the expiration of last textile and apparel quotas at the beginning of the year, it is imperative for the US government to invoke the special textile China safeguard before any further disruption to the US market occurs."

Employment in the US textile and clothing sector fell from 1,047,200 in January 2001 to 683,400 in January 2005 - a loss of 363,800 jobs or 34.7 per cent of previous employment.