The U.S. textile industry reports that exports for the Southeast’s largest basic industry increased 67% to a record $6.25 billion in 1994.  Textile imports rose 8% to $9.5 billion, also a record.  Exports accounted for about 5% of industry sales of $73.8 billion.

William J. Armfield IV, president of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute, the trade association, said that Nafta was a “positive force” for the industry last year.  However, he cautioned that the devaluation of the Mexican peso “could slow our exports to Mexico in 1995.”

Due to GATT, however, Mr. Armfield said the industry will be looking for “new trade opportunities as foreign markets begin to open up.”

Mr. Armfield added that  the phasing out of the Multifiber Agreement will lead to larger import quotas, but that their growth will not be significant for four or five years.

Textile manufacturers spent a record $2.37 billion for new plants and equipment last year, which “underscores the industry’s strong commitment to be globally competitive,” Mr. Armfield said.  Already, he added, several U.S. companies have invested in joint ventures in foreign markets.