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Winners and Losers Emerge in US Jeans Imports for 2019

Mexico and most of the Western Hemisphere are up, Vietnam is surging and China remains tepid–the first two months of U.S. denim apparel imports indicate clear strengths and weaknesses in sourcing patterns.

The latest report from the Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles & Apparel (OTEXA) shows imports of denim apparel–the vast majority of which are jeans–from Vietnam jumped 35.85 percent in year-to-date comparisons through February, reaching a value of $50.13 million. Jeans imports from Mexico–the No. 2 supplier with a 21.39 percent market share–increased 13.03 percent to $126.34 million in the same period.

Overall imports of denim apparel into the U.S. increased 6.03 percent, as companies brought in $579.92 million worth of merchandise so far this year, according to OTEXA.

Imports from the Western Hemisphere, including Mexico and the countries of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), saw a gain of 9.93 percent in the category, to reach a value of $156.58 million. Among the CAFTA countries, Nicaragua’s shipments rose 16.82 percent to $14.28 million for the first two months of 2019 compared to the same period a year earlier, while jeans imports from Guatemala increased 58.94 percent to $5.48 million. Losing ground in the region was Columbia, with 14.64 percent decline to $9.7 million.

Meanwhile, jeans imports from China ticked up 1.89 percent in the first two months of the year compared to the same timeframe last year, to reach $150.36 million worth of goods. This helped China keep its top spot among denim suppliers with a 24.15 percent market share.

There was a mixed picture elsewhere in Asia, according to OTEXA data. Major suppliers seeing declines in jeans shipments to the U.S. included Bangladesh, down 5.81 percent to $64.78 million; Pakistan, with a drop-off of 7.45 percent to $38.37 million, and Cambodia, falling 13.92 percent to 13.79 million.

Countries from the region that benefited from increases in denim imports from the U.S., included Indonesia, up 20.81 percent to $14.09 million; Sri Lanka, increasing 3.63 percent to $9.94 million, and India, rising 63.33 percent to $7.87 million.

Middle Eastern and African countries, which like Mexico and the CAFTA countries can ship goods to the U.S. duty free, also showed strength. Jeans imports from Egypt rose 9.71 percent in the comparable period to a value of $24.73 million, and Jordan’s shipments were up 46.16 percent to $10.92 million.

Denim apparel imports from Sub-Saharan countries that are part of the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA) increased 19.13 percent in the period to reach $19.73 million. This included gains from Madagascar, Kenya, Mauritius and Ethiopia.

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