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Trade statistics indicate another big year for imports and exports of nonwoven roll goods.

significant increases over 1991 reported; however, trade deficits with Japan and Europe must be monitored

According to statistics provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce, there was a significant increase in imports and exports of nonwoven roll goods traded between the U.S. and various countries around the world during 1992.

In fact, compared to 1991 figures, the "free along side" value of U.S. exports increased by more than 20%. FAS value is defined as the transaction cost of the goods and excludes such things as freight, insurance and duties.

Moreover, in terms of total weight, 1992 exports were more than 10% higher than 1991 with nearly 35 million kilograms of nonwoven roll goods exported in 1992 compared to 26 million kilograms exported during 1991. A kilogram equals about 2.2 pounds.

In other good news, the 1992 figures reveal that the value of nonwoven roll goods exported from the U.S. grew faster than the value of imports to the U.S. - an increase of more than 140% in imports. This is a reversal of what occurred during 1991 when the value of imports increased significantly more than the value of exports (21% versus 90%).

Basis Of Statistics

Under current U.S. Harmonized Tariff Schedule classifications there are four primary subheadings for nonwoven roll goods: thermally bonded (HTS heading 5603.00.90.30); hydroentangled and mechanically entangled (5603.00.90.50); spunbonded and melt blown (5603.00.90.70) and chemically bonded air laid (5603.00.90.90). Felts and stitch-bonded fiber fabrics are listed under HTS heading 5602 and will not be addressed in this article.

By law, any item shipped in or out of the U.S. must by accompanied by forms that note the proper 10 digit Harmonized Tariff Schedule number. These forms are the basis of statistics compiled by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Since there is the possibility that items may be mistakenly miscategorized by import/export brokers, the statistics for various categories of nonwovens may not by entirely accurate. In fact, INDA has circulated trade statistics to its members for several years and has received word that some of the information contained in these reports is not entirely consistent with the market experience of certain members.

While the aggregate data reflected by these statistics is generally trustworthy, mistakes may be found within certain subcategories. For these reasons, readers are urged to use this information for comparison purpose only.

Imports And Exports

In 1992, according to the Commerce Department, just over 34 million kg of nonwoven roll goods were imported into the U.S. The total estimated value of these imports was $194.6 million.

In terms of weight, the statistics indicate that slightly less than 50% of all imports were classified as spunbonded and melt blown (17.2 million kg): about 29% (9.7 million kg) were chemically bonded and air laid; nearly 17% (5.7 million kg) were thermally bonded and just over 4% (1.4 million kg) were hydroentangled and mechanically entangled.

In terms of FAS value, the breakdowns are similar: 50% of total FAS was classified as spunbonds and melt blowns ($98 million); 26% was chemically bonded and air laids; ($50.0 million); 17% was thermally bonded ($33.6 million) and a little more than 6% ($12.5 million) came from imports of hydroentangled and mechanically entangled roll goods.

Where did they come from? By weight, nearly 35% of all imports (12 million kg) were from Luxembourg: 19.4% (6.6 million kg) were from Canada: 12.3% (4.2 million kg) were from Israel; 7.3% (2.6 million kg) were from Japan and 6.7% (2.3 million kg) were from Germany.

Exports in 1992 had as FAS value of $318.8 million, which is a significant increase over 1991, when the worldwide FAS value for these roll goods was $255 million.

By weight, nearly 75% of nonwoven roll goods exported from the U.S. remained within North America: 38% (22.2 million kg) was sent to Canada and 37% (21.3 million kg) went to Mexico. Most of the remaining exports went to the U.K. (2.1 million kg), Japan (2.0 million kg) and Belgium (1.6 million kg).

Moreover, 43% of all exports (25.2 million kg) were hydroentangled and mechanically entangled nonwovens; 41% (23.9 million kg) were chemically bonded and air laid; 8% (4.6 million kg) were thermally bonded; and another 8% (4.6 million kg) were spunbonded and melt blown.

In terms of FAS value, 41% ($131 million) of the total came from exports of chemically bonded and air laid nonwovens: 36% ($114 million) was from hydroentangled and mechanically entangled nonwovens; 17% ($52.7 million) came from thermal bonded; and 7% ($21.4 million) was in the form of spunbonded and melt blown roll goods.

Regional Findings

(Deficits and Surpluses)

The statistics also indicate that the U.S. trade deficit with Japan increased significantly during 1992. In 1991, U.S. exports to Japan had an FAS value of $10.3 million, while imports from Japan had an FAS value of $20.3 (a deficit of $10 million). But 1992 U.S. exports to Japan were valued at $16 million while imports had an FAS value of nearly $34.1 million (a deficit of $18.1 million).

When combined FAS values for the leading Asian countries (China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand) are examined, however, the statistics reveal that the U.S. enjoys a small trade surplus with these countries. U.S. exports to these countries amounted to $36 million, while imports were just about $35 million - and as noted, $34 million of that came from Japan alone.

On the other hand, the U.S. has a significant trade deficit with the leading European countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the U.K.). During 1992, some $107 million worth of nonwoven roll goods were exported to the U.S. from these countries, but only $37.2 million worth of U.S. nonwovens were exported to these countries.

The significant increase in both imports and exports is a good sign for the nonwovens industry, as is the healthy increases in the FAS value of nonwovens traded.

But trade deficits with the European Community and Japan are an area of concern. While the U.S. currently enjoys a significant worldwide trade surplus in the FAS value of overall trade in nonwoven roll goods, these regional deficits can be seen as potential pressure points that need to be watched carefully in the time 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. This Capital Comments column appears monthly in nonwovens industry.
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Title Annotation:Department of Commerce report
Author:Mayberry, Peter
Publication:Nonwovens Industry
Date:May 1, 1993
Previous Article:Reactive hot melt adhesives.
Next Article:Spunbonded nonwovens in Japan.

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