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How US-China Trade War Has Impacted Where Footwear Is Made

Even as a Phase One deal that is set to be signed on Wednesday limits further damage of the U.S-China trade war, the cumulative toll it has taken can be seen in U.S. footwear imports.

Footwear shipments from China were down 11.3 percent to a value of $11.43 billion for the first 11 months of 2019 for the top supplier, while the next top four production countries saw increases, according to the U.S. Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles & Apparel (OTEXA). This brought China’s market share in value down to 48.41 percent from 48.8 percent the previous month.

In comparison, footwear shipments to the U.S. from No. 2 supplier Vietnam increased 10.25 percent year to date through November to $6.24 billion. This gave Vietnam a 26.4 percent market share, the same as it held a month earlier, according to OTEXA.

The next three top suppliers–Indonesia, Italy and India–saw shipments rise in the period, while only Mexico in the Top 10 posted a decline.

Looking at November imports compared to a year earlier, volume fell 1.2 percent, the third straight year-over-year decline, according to analysis from the Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America (FDRA). A 26 percent drop in shipments from Indonesia and a 2.7 percent decline from China offset higher shipments from Vietnam, while imports from the rest of the world climbed 12.9 percent, the 11th straight double-digit increase, FDRA said.

The value of total footwear imports also dropped in November, off 7.9 percent from a year earlier, the biggest falloff in 33 months.

“Duties remain problematic for the industry, reaching $271.1 million in November, by far the biggest November on record,” FDRA said. “The latest round of Trump duties applied against footwear from China is the key culprit behind the jump in duties the last three months.”

Bootwear imports fell 13.4 percent year-over-year, as sagging shipments from China, down 18 percent, and Indonesia, off 43.6 percent, more than offset increases from the rest of the world, FDRA noted.

Athletic footwear imports dropped 16.1 percent in November–the steepest decline in 33 months–as shipments from China, Vietnam and Indonesia all slid.