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Vietnam’s Apparel Exports on Growth Track Despite TPP’s Demise

In the first eight months of this year, exports in the sector increased 9.9% compared to the same period a year earlier to reach $19.8 billion, VITAS president Vu Duc Giang said at the Cotton Day celebrations in Ho Chi Minh City, according the media reports.

Vietnam imports 60 percent of its fiber, as cotton farms in Vietnam meet only 0.04% of the domestic textile sector’s demand, the Vietnamese News Agency quoted Giang as saying at the event, organized by VITAS along with the U.S. Cotton Council International.

CCI’s Cotton Day events have been held in various countries in Asia, including Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan, Thailand and Bangladesh. This was the first time it was held in Vietnam.

The U.S. is Vietnam’s leading market, accounting for 51 percent of market share. This is also the first year the CCI has supported Vietnamese brands using U.S. cotton.

[Read more about Vietnam sourcing: Vietnam Remains Second Only to China in Sourcing]

Vietnam was expected to grow even more in importance as a sourcing destination if the Trans-Pacific Partnership had come to fruition. But President Trump derailed the proposed free trade agreement after entering office, saying it would hurt U.S. workers and industry. Though efforts have been made to revive the deal without the U.S., the latest news seems to indicate that Vietnam may no longer be interested in moving forward.

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Vietnam’s apparel shipments to the U.S. grew 6.2% to $6.5 billion for the year through July, gaining 1.1% market share to represent 14.5% of U.S. apparel import market share so far this year.

Speaking at last month’s Sourcing at Magic show in Las Vegas, Sheng Lu, assistant professor for fashion and apparel studies at the University of Delaware, presented the results of a study he conducted with the U.S. Fashion Industry Association that showed Vietnam was the second most sourced country after China, with 88 percent of respondents saying they manufactured there.

Lu said the study showed that the most popular sourcing strategy right now is “China Plus Vietnam Plus Many,” meaning that global manufacturing is becoming more diversified. The country was rated as the most competitive supplier and one of the most balanced, with a combination of price and speed to market capability, he noted.

At the Ho Chi Minh City event, CANIFA and John Henry brands’ latest collections were shown, along with collections of the five contestants of the Cotton USA fashion design contest, according to reports.

William Bettendorf, CCI director general, said Vietnam was chosen as the host of Cotton Day due to the market’s growth in recent years, adding that the country is the U.S. cotton sector’s largest customer.