U.S. apparel imports continued to gain steam in July, with Vietnam, India and Bangladesh benefiting most from the increase. For the first time ever, the value of apparel imported in a month from Vietnam exceeded $1 billion.
Total U.S. apparel imports (MFA) increased by 5 percent in the month on a dollar basis and by 7.1% on a square meter equivalent (SME) basis, according to data just released by OTEXA, the International Trade Administration’s Office of Textiles and Apparel, causing the year-to-date increases in the two measures to rise to 4.3% and 5.9%, respectively.
Apparel imports from China rose by 5.1% in July on a dollar basis and 7.8% on an SME basis as the country continued to ship lower cost apparel to the U.S. So far this year, imports from China have grown by 2.3% in dollars, around half the pace of total apparel imports, to $15.9 billion, causing China’s share of U.S. apparel imports to drop to 33.5% from 34.1% in the year-ago period, giving it the biggest share loss of any major trading partner.
Apparel imports from Vietnam increased in July by 12.7% year-over-year, exceeding $1 billion in a month for the first time. Though the number two source of U.S. apparel imports, imports from Vietnam have grown the fastest of any top trading partner, up 15 percent, giving it a 1.2-percentage-point share gain so far this year to 12.5% of total dollar imports of apparel, or $5.9 billion. If the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) ends up passing, Vietnam’s continued rapid growth as a source of imported U.S. apparel could even accelerate.
Growth in imports from Bangladesh slowed to 3.7% in July to $508 million, giving the country a 8.5% increase year to date, allowing it to edge out Indonesia as the third largest source of U.S. apparel imports, at 6.7% of the year-to-date total.
Apparel imports from India grew by 7.3% to $325 million in the month, bringing the year-to-date total to over $2.3 billion dollars, up 9.6% compared to the same period in 2014. India’s share of U.S. apparel has risen to 4.9% so far this year.
Though not among the top 10 trading partners, Sri Lanka has seen its imports to the U.S. increase by more than 16 percent so far this year, to $1.1 billion, and imports from Burma (Myanmar) have increased by more than 130 percent, to over $14.6 million.
Imports from Sub-Saharan Africa have declined by almost 3 percent so far this year, to $560 million. Kenya is the biggest trading partner in the region, at $213 million year-to-date.
Imports from Haiti have grown by over 12 percent in 2015, helped by the Haiti HOPE knit apparel program.