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1991 figures show increased export and import trade in nonwoven roll goods.

imports grew faster than exports, according to Customs Service figures; while figures may not be completely accurate, they give the best picture of current statistics

According to statistics provided by the United States Customs Service, 1991 saw a fairly significant increase in both import and export trade of nonwoven roll goods compared to 1990.

These statistics, which INDA cannot endorse as being entirely accurate, indicate that the "free along side value"--defined as "transaction cost" and not including freight, insurance and duties--of export/import trade increased by about 14% last year--from $363 million in 1990 to $423 million in 1991.

The figures also reveal that imports to the U.S. are growing at a much faster rate than exports from the U.S. In fact, when compared to 1990, the total value of U.S. exports increased by approximately 9%, while the total value of imports to the U.S. increased by about 21%.

Basis Of Statistics/Possible Inaccuracies

INDA has been circulating import/export data to its members since mid-1990 through the INDA Communication Action Network (ICAN). The data is provided by the U.S. Customs Service and is based on Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) classifications, which must be posted on incoming and outgoing materials.

In distributing this data, INDA has polled its members to determine whether the government statistics are consistent with INDA members' experience in the marketplace. Unfortunately, we have been told that there are inconsistencies in the information.

Even though there may be some "bugs" in the system, these Customs Service figures are the most accurate statistics that are currently available.

Moreover, INDA is simultaneously trying to educate its members and find ways to working with Customs to help ensure that the data is as accurate as possible. INDA is also working with Customs to establish additional breakouts for nonwoven roll goods, which will provide trade data on a greater variety of nonwovens.

With these caveats, lets see what the government has to say about imports and exports of nonwoven roll goods. Since there may be inaccuracies within specific categories. the analysis is limited to overall findings.

1991 Findings--U.S. Exports Of Nonwovens

Overall during 1991, more than 52 million kilograms of nonwoven roll goods were exported from the U.S. (one kg equals about 2.2 pounds). The free along side value for these exports was $255 million.

Compared with 1990 (47 million kg with an FAS value of $232 million), this was an increase of about 9% in both total kg and total FAS value.

Interestingly, nearly 70% of all U.S. exports--in terms of both kg shipped and total FAS value--remained within North America. About 37% (total kg and FAS value) was exported to Mexico and 32% was sent to Canada. Five European countries received almost 10% of total exported roll goods (accounting for nearly 8% of total FAS value) and about 6% of the remainder (representing nearly 8% of total FAS value) was shipped to either Japan or Hong Kong.

1991 Findings--U.S. Imports Of Nonwovens

Even though exports were up in 1991, imports increased even more. In 1990, slightly more than 26 million kg of nonwoven roll goods were imported into the U.S. This represented a total FAS value of about $131.5 million. In 1991 these figures increased to 33 million kg, with an FAS value of $168 million--a rise of about 21% in both categories.

Most of these imports (66% total kg, 63% total FAS value) came from one of five European countries or from Israel. The single largest exporter to the U.S. was Luxembourg.

Another 18% of the total kg of imported roll goods, representing about 10% of total FAS value, came from either Canada or Mexico. Nearly 5% of the remaining imported kg, representing about 12% of the total FAS, came from Japan.

As with many American industries, we have a deficit in the total FAS value of our trade with Japan. That is, during 1991, the U.S. exported a total of about 1.5 million kg of nonwoven roll goods to Japan with an FAS value of $10.3 million. But the roll goods imported from Japan had an FAS value of $20.3 million, even though they were roughly equal in terms of total kg (1.5 million).

The Future

As noted earlier, nearly 70% of all U.S. exported roll goods are being sent to either Canada or Mexico. INDA has recognized this trend for some time and has used this knowledge as the basis of our official position favoring a North American Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Such an agreement would significantly reduce the cost of exporting and importing items between the three countries and would likely save millions of dollars a year for nonwoven roll goods manufacturers.

In addition, INDA is currently working with a group of roll goods companies to establish an "exposition mission" to display products in Mexico during the fall of 1993. Such a mission will likely help to increase the amount of roll goods exported from the U.S. into Latin America even more.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, INDA will continue working with its members and with Customs officials to try to ensure that the statistics reported by the U.S. government are as accurate as possible. There are a number of issues that are currently being examined as a means of improving this data and INDA will be working on each in the months ahead. Peter Mayberry is the director of government affairs for INDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry. He works out of the Washington, DC offices of Keller & Heckman, INDA's legal counsel.
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Title Annotation:Capital Comments
Author:Mayberry, Peter
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:May 1, 1992
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