April 20, 2001
News Release 01-053
GLOBAL BROADWOVEN FABRIC INDUSTRY UNDERGOING
EXTENSIVE RESTRUCTURING, REPORTS ITC
The global broadwoven fabric industry is undergoing significant restructuring as a result of keen
competition in world markets, reports the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) in its
publication Industry and Trade Summary: Broadwoven Fabrics.
The ITC, an independent, nonpartisan, factfinding federal agency, recently released the report as
part of an ongoing series of reports on thousands of products imported into and exported from the
United States. The report addresses industry, market, and trade conditions for broadwoven
fabrics for the period 1994-99. Following are highlights from the report:
- Most textile and apparel articles are made from broadwoven fabrics. Global competition
in the industry has intensified in recent years, in part because of heavy pricing pressures
from Asia in the aftermath of the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis. World trade in textiles
and apparel will become less restrictive as World Trade Organization countries eliminate
quotas on such goods by January 1, 2005, adding to the competitive pressures facing the
- The U.S. broadwoven fabric industry declined according to several measures during
1994-99, a period of strong U.S. economic growth. Employment fell by 19 percent to
182,000 workers. Industry shipments rose from an average of $24.5 billion per year
during 1994-96 to $25 billion in 1997, and then fell to $23 billion in 1999.
- The U.S. broadwoven fabric market, valued at $21 billion in 1999, showed little growth
during 1994-99. Imports of broadwoven fabrics rose from $3.4 billion in 1994 to
$3.9 billion in 1997 and 1998, and then fell to $3.6 billion in 1999. Imports supplied
17 percent of the U.S. market by quantity in 1999 and came primarily from Asia.
- The U.S. industry faces considerable indirect import competition and shrinking U.S.
production of apparel, its major market. The growth in apparel imports, which accounts
for about 60 percent of the U.S. apparel market, limits domestic demand for U.S. fabrics
when such imports substitute foreign cloth for domestic fabrics. Although a significant
share of the apparel imports comes from Caribbean countries and Mexico, which use
large quantities of U.S. fabrics, the majority comes from other countries, especially Asian
countries, which seldom use U.S. materials.
- The U.S. industry restructured operations in the 1990s, reducing production of basic
apparel fabrics and expanding output of higher value-added fabrics. The industry
invested in new technologies to increase productivity, operating flexibility, and customer
service. Since the implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement
(NAFTA) in 1994, some U.S. fabric producers have invested in facilities in Mexico.
- U.S. exports of broadwoven fabrics rose at an average annual rate of 7.5 percent during
1994-99 to $2.6 billion, or 13 percent of 1999 U.S. shipments. Exports to Mexico have
quadrupled under NAFTA, rising to $1.2 billion, or 46 percent of 1999 exports. New
legislation expanding trade benefits for countries in sub-Saharan Africa and the
Caribbean Basin will likely spur demand for U.S. exports of apparel fabrics.
The foregoing information is from the ITC report Industry and Trade Summary: Broadwoven
Fabrics (USITC Publication 3410, March 2001).
ITC Industry and Trade Summary reports include information on product uses, U.S. and foreign
producers, and customs treatment of the products being studied; they analyze the basic factors
affecting trends in consumption, production, and trade of the commodities, as well as factors
bearing on the competitiveness of U.S. industry in domestic and foreign markets.
This report will be available on the ITC Internet web site at www.usitc.gov. A printed copy may
be ordered without charge by calling 202-205-1809, or by writing the Office of the Secretary,
U.S. International Trade Commission, 500 E Street SW, Washington, DC 20436. Requests may
be faxed to 202-205-2104.
-- 30 --