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Vietnam Production Still Lagging, Shoe Imports Data Shows

Following a 28.1 percent increase in 2021, U.S. footwear imports picked up the pace in the first two months of 2022, increasing a year-over-year 29.3 percent to 432.32 million pairs, according to the Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles & Apparel (OTEXA).

Top supplier China saw its imports into the U.S. jump 40.9 percent year to date to 282.88 pairs, after a 30.7 percent hike in 2021. This gave China 65.4 percent import market share compared to a 59.4 percent share last year, amid continued high tariff levels and political tensions between the world’s two biggest economies that has led to some apparel and footwear makers to seek alternative production spots.

Last week, Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America (FDRA) president and CEO Matt Priest issued the following statement ahead of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai’s testimony before the House Ways & Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee in which he urged her to focus on inflation and the need to provide tariff relief for American consumers.

“President Biden recently announced combating inflation as his top priority,” Priest said. “If the administration is serious about addressing this critical issue, it should provide immediate tariff relief. Earlier this month, we sent a letter to President Biden urging him to eliminate tariffs on shoes and other basic consumer through Labor Day 2022. Bold action is needed to stop soaring inflation, and trade policy provides a key tool for providing much-needed relief for American individuals and families.”

For No. 2 supplier Vietnam, production problems linger. Nike said late last month that its factory partners there have returned to pre-lockdown production levels, but continued shipping delays are still preventing the company from meeting marketplace demand.

In the two-month period this year, OTEXA data showed Vietnam shipments reaching U.S. ports declined 5.7 percent year to date to 80.07 million pairs and an 18.5 percent market share. This compares to a 17.7 percent gain in 2021 and 23.5 percent share.

Combining China and Vietnam footwear shipments to the U.S., the two countries hold an 84 percent import market share for the two-month period. This is up slightly from the 83.7 percent share they held in 2021 and doesn’t leave much production for second-tier suppliers.

These smaller suppliers–including mainstream producers Indonesia, Cambodia, India and Mexico, and upscale makers Italy and Brazil–all posted increases in the two-month period, as well.