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US Apparel Imports Rise in May, China Loses Share

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The United States imported more apparel in May after April’s decline.

According to data from the Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA) released Wednesday, apparel imports were up 2.2% over last May to 2.06 billion square meter equivalents (SMEs), compared to April’s 1.6% decline.

Textile imports, however, were down 3.1% to 3.23 billion SMEs.

In dollar terms, overall textile and apparel imports were down nearly 3 percent to $41.35 billion in the year to May.

China’s exports to the U.S. fell 5.5% year over year in SME terms as retailers continue to diversify their sourcing matrices to include other low cost countries, though the nation still has a sixfold lead on every other in terms of volume. Despite still being solidly the largest exporter to the U.S., China was the only country in the top 10 to see its export volume fall year over year.

India was the United States’ second largest apparel and textile importer, sending over 407.7 SMEs in May, a 5 percent jump over the same time last year. Imports from Vietnam were up 6.2% over May 2015 to 377.1 SMEs.

South Korea saw a double digit growth in its exports to the U.S., increasing 10.1% to 148.1 million SMEs.

Imports from Mexico were up 6.6% in May to 209.3 SMEs, though they are down 5.2% for the year so far.

Bangladesh was the sixth largest source of apparel and textile goods for the U.S., with imports from the Southeast Asian nation up 3.8% this May over last, and up 12.9% so far this year.

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