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Vietnam, China Grow to Almost Half of US Apparel Imports

U.S. apparel imports picked up in February, according to the most recent data from OTEXA, the International Trade Administration’s Office of Textiles and Apparel, with China and Vietnam comprising almost half of the total so far this year. 

Total apparel imports increased by 13.8% in dollar terms compared to February 2015, to $7.1 billion, well above January’s increase rate of about 1 percent. On a square meter equivalent (SME) basis, imports rose by 19.4%, indicating a continuing shift toward lower-cost goods compared to the year-ago period. 

For the first two months of 2016, apparel imports increased by 7.6%, to $13.7 billion. The cost per SME of apparel imports fell by 4.7%.

Though still the number two source of U.S. apparel imports, Vietnam’s apparel exports to the U.S. are growing the fastest of any of the top 1o trading partners. So far this year, the country has gained 1.7 percentage points of U.S. apparel import share, representing 13.7% of total imports, or $1.88 billion.

China remains the largest source of U.S. apparel imports, however, and even managed to gain back 0.4 percentage points of share lost in recent months to Bangladesh, India and other low-cost countries. Year-to-date, apparel imports from China have increased by 8.9% to $4.8 billion. On an SME basis, however, imports from China increased by 16.6%, resulting in a cost per unit (SME) drop of 6.6%.

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Imports from Bangladesh grew by 8.5% to $983 million, or 7.2% of the year-to-date total, moving it ahead of Indonesia as the third largest source of U.S. apparel imports on both a dollar and SME basis for the second month in a row. 

Indonesia’s apparel shipments to the U.S. swung from a 4.6% decline in January to an 8.9% increase for the first two months of 2016, to $866 million, or 6.3% of total year-to-date imports.

Apparel imports from India have increased by 9.4% so far this year to $699 million, giving India a 5.1% share of total apparel imports. 

Apparel imports from Mexico, Honduras and Pakistan all declined and lost share in the month. 

Countries in the ASEAN region have gained 1.5 percentage points of share so far this year.

Other countries enjoying rapid growth in apparel trade with the U.S. so far this year include Turkey, up 19 percent to $79 million, Madagascar, up 172 percent to 11 million, and Burma (Myanmar), up 95 percent to $7.7 million.