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Make Importing Silk a Smooth Process

Make Importing Silk a Smooth Process
Imported silk must meet regulations set by the U.S. government, such as the FTC, USDA and CPSC. Find out how silk should be classified to be allowed entry into the U.S.
By
Josh Kimble
November 4, 2021
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The history of importing might date all the way back to the Silk Road. This route for international trade connected The Far East with the Middle East and Europe and truly changed the course of history. Today, 600 years later, importing silk is still a big business. A few things have changed since then and there’s a lot to keep in mind when bringing silk into the United States today.

Importing silk today means dealing with regulations set by the U.S. government. Importers need to comply with rules set by the FTC, USDA, and even CPSC. Additionally, silk products need to be classified correctly for entry into the U.S. as outlined in Chapter 50 of the U.S. Trade Commission’s Harmonized Tariff Schedule.

Need help importing silk? We're here to help

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Let’s slide right into the details of importing silk. We’ll cover where silk comes from, which countries import silk, what U.S. government agencies deal with silk imports, and how the right import partner can ensure a smooth transaction.

Is Silk Imported from China Today?

Is Silk Imported from China Today?

China has long been associated with quality silk fabrics. Just how long? The Chinese have dominated the silk industry since the Han dynasty, which lasted from 207 BCE to 220 CE.

In fact, the East and the West were first connected by the silk trade. The ancient Silk Road was a trade route. Merchants started traveling the Silk Road in the 2nd Century BCE. The route was in use until the 18th century. Not only was silk traded along this path from China to the Middle East to Europe, but the trade route fostered commerce for spices and other high-value goods as well. 

Is silk still an important commodity in China, even thousands of years later? Yes. Silk is imported from China today. 

In fact, the volume of silk exported from China and imported into other countries might surprise you. A majority of the world’s silk exports come from China. 

Just how much silk is exported from China? Data from 2019 shows that 60.9% of all raw silk in the world is exported from China. This accounts for more than $244 million in imports. 

Just how much silk is worth $244 million? The average wholesale cost of raw silk is $8 a yard. This means that more than 30.5 million yards of raw silk are exported from China each year, based on numbers from 2019. 

China is the largest supplier of raw silk in the world, but it certainly isn’t the only place from where you can import silk. Let’s look at a few other countries that export silk, too.

What Are Other Silk Exporting Countries?

What Are Other Silk Exporting Countries?

While China is known for its fine silk and serves as a major exporter, it isn’t the only country from which importers can source silk and silk products.

Other countries that play a very important role in the global silk trade include:

  • Vietnam (14.1% of raw silk exports)
  • Uzbekistan (7.59% of raw silk exports)
  • Brazil (5.89% of raw silk exports)
  • Italy (5.7% of raw silk exports)

These 5 countries (China, Vietnam, Uzbekistan, Brazil, and Italy) account for almost 95% of all global exports of raw silk. These countries are known for their high-quality products, including raw silk, silk yarn, and silk textiles.

So know that we know where silk is coming from, let’s slide right into where the silk is going and which countries are importing the most silk.

Which Country Imports the Most Silk?

Which Country Imports the Most Silk?

India is known for its rich and diverse cultural tradition. In fact, traditional Indian women’s clothing is often made from silk. The sari is a traditional 3-piece ensemble comprised of silk garments and can be worn both every day or for special occasions.

With this in mind, it shouldn’t be a shock that India is the largest silk importer in the world. In fact, 39.4% of all raw silk in the world goes to India, accounting for more than $158 million in trade.

Other top importers of raw silk include:

  • Romania (17.2% of all imported raw silk)
  • Vietnam (10.1% of all imported raw silk)
  • Italy (9.7% of all imported raw silk)
  • Iran (3.5% of all imported raw silk)

Knowing about the import and export of silk in other countries provides a great background to understand importing silk in the U.S. Let’s look at some details.

Does the U.S. Import Silk?

Does the U.S. Import Silk?

While the U.S. doesn’t import as much silk as India or Romania, silk imports here are still big business. 

Does the U.S. import silk? Absolutely. In fact, 27.3% of all raw silk coming to North America from exporting countries comes right to the U.S. This adds up to $87,000 in just raw silk alone. Silk imports can also be classified as silk waste and silk yarn -- it is not all the raw material in the statistics above.

This might not seem like a lot on a global scale, but keep in mind that the U.S. also imports other silk products. You’ll find beautiful silk scarves in boutiques, silk textiles used in clothing and home furnishings, silk yarn used in production, silk garments, and a wide range of smooth silk goods imported into the U.S.

What all is silk used for in the U.S.? Consider the following uses for silk, some of which might be unexpected.

  • Clothing
  • Bedding
  • Surgical sutures
  • Parachutes
  • Bicycle tires

Importing silk into the U.S. can be an easy and smooth process. However, you might have to deal with a few government agencies. The right partner can help make importing tons of silk a smooth process and scale a solution for you.

Need help importing silk? We're here to help

Our licensed professionals are available and can provide you with expert support

What Government Agencies Deal With Importing Silk?

What Government Agencies Deal With Importing Silk?

You’ll find that a handful of government agencies have a hand in importing silk. These agencies include CBP, EPA, FTC, and USDA

Customs and Border Protection

CBP might inspect your silk imports right at the point of entry. They’ll be making sure your silk meets standards such as labeling requirements. Things they’ll look for on your silk labels might include:

  • Country of origin
  • Full fiber content (is it 100% silk?)
  • Manufacturer
  • Care instructions

Environmental Protection Agency

EPA agents might inspect your silk imports to ensure they contain no toxic substances like pesticides.

Federal Trade Commission

FTC can also inspect imported silk to make sure it doesn’t violate any intellectual property rights and is properly labeled. 

For example, counterfeit design silk goods violate IPR and could break the law. This is similar to what could happen when you try to import replica purses. We’ve put together an article about what you need to know about IPR violations and more.

U.S. Department of Agriculture 

Silk is an organic fabric, which means it is also subject to inspection by the USDA.

Additionally, the Office of Textiles and Apparel keeps import data about silk coming into the U.S. You might use their resources to determine if your silk is subject to preferential tariff treatment.

Silk Classifications According to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule

Importing silk into the U.S. means you’ll need to know the HTS code of your products for documentation. Silk is covered in Chapter 50 of the schedule.

The following 4-digit codes relate to silk imports:

The first four digits of the HS code for the major categories for silk products are:

  • 5001 — Silkworm cocoons suitable for reeling
  • 5002 — Raw silk (not thrown)
  • 5003 — Silk waste (including cocoons unsuitable for reeling, yarn waste, and garnetted stock)
  • 5004 — Silk yarn (other than yarn spun from silk waste) not put up for retail sale
  • 5005 — Yarn spun from silk waste, not put up for retail sale
  • 5006 — Silk yarn and yarn spun from silk waste, put up for retail sale; silkworm gut
  • 5007 — Woven fabrics of silk or silk waste

Do I Need a Customs Bond When Importing Silk?

Customs bonds, sometimes called import bonds, are essential when importing commercial goods. You’ll find that a customs bond is basically an agreement or insurance policy between the importer and the U.S. government ensuring that all duties and fees will be paid.

You’ll need a customs bond when your commercial imports exceed a certain value or when they are subject to regulations from a government agency. Because silk imports are regulated by the entities mentioned above (CBP, USDA, FTC), you’ll very likely need a customs bond when importing silk.

Need help with an import bond? USA Customs Clearance, powered by AFC International, can get you the continuous customs bond you need to make importing easy.

Go ahead and buy a customs bond today

and get your freight on the way around the globe.

Make Importing Smooth as Silk with USA Customs Clearance

A strategic partner can make importing silk a smooth process every step of the journey. From working with the government agencies to ensuring proper labeling, a Licensed Customs Broker can help guide your imports across the border with ease.

USA Customs Clearance, powered by AFC International, can help you make sure that there are no surprises at the border. Importers handling things on their own, especially when new to the process, can miss a step and be subject to hefty fines and fees at the border. Working with a Licensed Customs Broker ensures a smooth importing process and guarantees your transaction is smooth as silk.

Consider reaching out to USA Customs Clearance now to start importing silk. Get a quote for customs brokerage services now.  Need more help? Give us a call at (855) 912- 0406 or use the chatbox below for immediate assistance.

Need help importing silk? We're here to help

Our licensed professionals are available and can provide you with expert support
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