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Vietnam, Bangladesh Enjoy Biggest Share Gains of US Apparel Imports

U.S. apparel import growth slowed in November, bringing total imports for the January through November 2015 period to $79 billion (MFA), 4.1% higher than the prior year period, according to data just released by OTEXA, the International Trade Administration’s Office of Textiles and Apparel.

On a square meter equivalent (SME) basis, imports rose by 6.2%, indicating a shift toward cheaper goods compared to last year.

Vietnam and Bangladesh continued to grow their apparel exports to the U.S. at the fastest rates of any top 10 trading partners.

Though China made up some lost ground over the summer, import growth from the largest source of U.S. apparel was below the overall average in November, rising only 2 percent on a dollar basis. On an SME basis, however, imports increased by 5.7%, faster than the overall average.

China’s share of the dollar value of U.S. apparel imports dropped by 0.6% compared to the first 11 months of 2014, to 36 percent. Imports of manmade fiber apparel from China increased by 9 percent to $14.9 billion, while those of cotton apparel fell by 3.4% to $11.2 billion.

Apparel imports from Vietnam increased in November by 16.4% year-over-year, to $765 million, well below the billion dollar per month levels reached in each month from July to September. Though a distant number two source of U.S. apparel imports, imports from Vietnam grew the fastest of any top trading partner, up 14.1% for the first 11 months of 2015, giving it a 1.1-percentage-point share gain so far this year to 12.4% of total dollar imports of apparel, or $9.8 billion. With the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) all but passed, Vietnam’s continued rapid growth as a source of imported U.S. apparel will most likely accelerate.

Imports from Bangladesh jumped by 15.5% in November to $338 million, bringing the country’s year-to-date increase to 11.4%, moving it ahead of Indonesia as the third largest source of U.S. apparel imports on both a dollar and SME basis, at 6.3% of the year-to-date dollar total, or over $5 billion. Manmade fiber apparel imports increased by 25.4% to over $1 billion in the 11 month period, and cotton apparel imports grew by 8.5% to $3.8 billion.

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Apparel imports from India grew by 10.6% to $242 million in the month of November, bringing the year-to-date total to over $3.4 billion dollars, up 7.7% compared to the same period in 2014. India’s share of U.S. apparel has risen to 4.3% so far this year, making it the fifth largest source of imported apparel. Cotton apparel imports from India rose by 6.9% for the first 11 months of 2015, to $2.3 billion, while manmade fiber apparel imports increased by 1 percent to $900 billion.

Other countries enjoying rapid growth in apparel trade with the U.S. in the January to November 2015 period include Turkey, up 11.6% to $421 million, Colombia, up 14 percent to $207 million and Myanmar, up 168 percent to $38 million.