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China’s Apparel Exports to US Erode as Trade War Ensues

In the lead up to the imposition of stiff tariffs on Friday from the world’s two largest economies, U.S. textile and apparel imports from China fell 2.2% to $2.92 billion worth of goods in May, compared to a year earlier.

China and the U.S. both imposed major tariffs on a range of goods on Friday, while President Trump’s tariff battles raged on with the European Union, Canada and Mexico, as well. As the trade war brewed, China’s Asian neighbors like Vietnam, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Pakistan and India picked up market share.

Apparel imports bore the biggest brunt, dropping 2.23% to 805 million square meter equivalents (SME) in the month compared to May 2017, while textile imports from China were down 0.2% in value to $1.12 billion, according to the Commerce Department’s Office of textile & Apparel (OTEXA). The volume of textile imports from China did rise 3.1% to 1.83 billion SME. Combined textile and apparel imports from China also rose 1.4% in May year-to-year to 2.64 billion SME.

Overall textile and apparel exports to the U.S. increased 3.9% in volume to 5.68 billion SME in May compared to a year earlier, and rose 3 percent in value to $8.78 billion. The nation’s international trade deficit in goods and services decreased to $43.1 billion in May from $46.1 billion in April, as exports increased more than imports, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Among the Top 10 apparel suppliers, imports from second-ranked Vietnam grew 8.59% to 332 million SME, with Bangladesh right behind, with its shipments to the U.S. up 7.71% to 163 million SME.

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India also saw gains, with its U.S. bound textile and apparel exports up 9.11% to 105 million SME, as did Cambodia, with a 12.87% jump to 64 million SME, Mexico, which increased its shipments 4.1% to 79 million SME despite ongoing trade strife. Pakistan saw its exports to the U.S. rise 11.33% to 50 million SME.

Indonesia, on the other hand, saw year-over-year declines in its shipments to the U.S., which fell 9.08% to 91 million SME, as did Honduras, which posted a 6.4% falloff to 90 million SME.

On a year-to-year value basis, apparel imports from Vietnam rose 14.9% to $984.02 million in May, Bangladesh’s were up 7.9% to $431.5 million, India’s rose 9.3% to $352.62 million and Cambodia’s increased 13 percent to $164.07 million. There was a notable decline in apparel coming from Mexico, with shipments down 13 percent to $274.72 million, while Canada’s apparel exports to the U.S. were up 48.5% to $56.07 million.

Some African countries continued to show strength as a growing supplier to the U.S. Imports from Ethiopia increased 56.9% year-to-year in May to $8.5 million and Madagasgar’s shipments rose 37.5% to $16.74 million.