Surging textile imports helped push the US trade deficit to an all-time high of $61.04 billion in February.

According to figures released by the Commerce Department, for the first two months of 2005, the US goods and services trade deficit rose by 30 per cent compared with the same period in 2004. 
 
The US trade deficit in textiles and clothing leapt 16.5 per cent to $12.9 billion in February. If this rate of growth continues, the $73.1 billion US trade deficit in textiles and clothing would jump to more than $85 billion in 2005.

The overall US trade deficit with China in goods grew by 47 per cent from $19.8 billion in the first two months of 2004 to $29.1 billion in the first two months of 2005. 

At this pace, it has been calculated that the United States would run a $238 billion trade deficit with China in 2005.

For February, imports of textiles and clothing from China rose by 9.8 per cent even though America's overall trade gap with China actually narrowed to $13.9 billion, down by 9.2 per cent from a January deficit of $15.3 billion.

The improvement reflected an increase in US exports to China and declines in other import categories outside of textiles.

The surging trade deficit is leading to an increase in protectionist pressures as American textile and clothing manufacturers lobby the administration to limit imports of Chinese textile and clothing goods.
 
"These skyrocketing trade deficits should send a strong signal to the US Congress and White House that our current trade policy is not working," said American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition (AMTAC) executive director Auggie Tantillo.

In an attempt to protect the domestic industry the administration has started investigations into whether to re-impose quotas on Chinese imports of various products.