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US Footwear Imports From China Took Major Hit in 2019, as Asian Neighbors Gained

China’s dominance as the country where footwear sold in the United States is manufactured took a big step down in 2019, while the next five top suppliers posted gains.

Amid increased tariffs and the threat of a more volatile bilateral trade relationship, U.S. footwear imports from China fell 11.7 percent to a value of $12.26 billion in 2019 compared to $13.88 billion the prior year. This gave China a 48.1 percent market share compared to a 53 percent share in 2018.

Imports from No. 2 supplier Vietnam rose 9.9 percent to a value $6.77 billion in 2019 compared to the prior year. Vietnam’s market share increased to 26.6 percent last year from 23.5 percent in 2018.

The next four top footwear suppliers registered varying degrees of increased shipments in 2019, as overall footwear imports fell 3.6 percent to $25.48 billion. Imports from Indonesia were up 5.8 percent to $1.64 billion, shipments from Italy rose 1.3 percent to $1.55 billion, as imports from India were up 6.5 percent to $461.4 million and shipments from Cambodia gained 36.6 percent to $448.35 million.

U.S. footwear imports finished the year on a weak note, falling 0.4 percent in volume and 1.9 percent in value in December from November, according to the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA). In volume, a 2.7 percent decline in shipments from China offset gains of 4.8 percent from Vietnam and 2.9 percent from Indonesia, FDRA said.

“Duties remain problematic for the industry, reaching $283.1 million in December, by far the biggest December on record,” FDRA said. “Trump duties applied against footwear from China is the key culprit behind the jump in duties the last four months. While average duties per pair from the rest of the world rose a modest 1.9 percent in December from a year earlier, duties per pair from China surged 49.2 percent.”

Bootwear imports dropped 13.4 percent year-over-year in December, as declining shipments from China and Indonesia couldn’t offset increases from the rest of the world. Athletic footwear imports decreased 16.1 percent in December, the steepest in 33 months, according to FDRA, as shipments from China, Vietnam and Indonesia all plunged.