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China and Indonesia Lose, Vietnam Gains Share of U.S. Apparel Imports in May

Vietnam reinforced its position as the up-and-coming supplier of U.S. apparel imports share in May, while China, Indonesia and Bangladesh continued to lose steam.

Total apparel imports for the first five months of 2014 increased by 2.1% compared to the same period last year, to $30.7 billion, according to data released last week by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA). Total unit volume, measured on a square meter equivalent basis, increased by 1.1%, driving up the average cost per SME by 1 percent.

Vietnam enjoys the biggest share gain of U.S. apparel imports so far this year, growing from 10.2% of total apparel imports in 2013 to 11.5% in 2014, a 1.3 percentage point share gain. In May, U.S. apparel imports from Vietnam totaled $664 million, a 10.1% gain over May 2013. Total apparel imports, on the other hand, fell by 2.4% on a CIF basis in the month.

Vietnam is exporting more expensive garments to the U.S. than in the past, with its cost per SME up this year by 3 percent. Key categories for Vietnam are: women’s cotton knit tops, women’s and men’s cotton pants, women’s manmade fiber knit tops and dresses, and cotton underwear.

China has suffered the biggest share loss so far in 2014, dropping from 33 percent to 32.1%, a 0.9 percentage point decline. In May, China’s apparel shipments to the U.S. fell 3.1% to $1.9 billion. Units (on an SME basis) dropped by 3.3%.

Key product categories from China in March included women’s cotton knit tops, women’s and men’s cotton pants, women’s manmade fiber knit tops and dresses, manmade fiber hosiery and  manmade fiber bras.

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Bangladesh edged ahead of Indonesia as the third largest source of apparel to the U.S. on both a dollar and unit basis. Both countries have lost share in the first four months of this year.

Bangladesh’s exports to the U.S. have declined by 1.7% in dollars on a year-to-date basis amid demands by U.S. apparel customers requiring factories there to invest in and improve safety conditions. Apparel imports from Indonesia have plunged almost 5 percent so far this year, with units down 3 percent. Indonesia’s share fell from 7.4% to 6.9% in the first four months of the year.

India has gained some U.S. apparel import share so far this year. Key categories include men’s and women’s cotton and manmade fiber knit and woven tops.

So far this year, shares of U.S. apparel imports enjoyed by CBI and CAFTA-DR countries have been flat, compared to increases by the South Asia, OECD and ASEAN regions.