U.S. apparel imports fell slightly in the first quarter of 2017, according to the most current data from OTEXA, the International Trade Administration’s Office of Textiles and Apparel. Total apparel imports declined by 2 percent on an MFA basis in the period, to $18.9 billion from $19.3 billion in the first quarter of 2016.
Vietnam, Nicaragua and Mexico grew their apparel exports to the U.S. the most of the top 10 trading partners. Vietnam and Mexico enjoyed the biggest share gain of U.S. apparel imports.
On a square meter equivalent (SME) basis, imports edged up by 1.5%, continuing the trend toward cheaper goods, despite increases in labor and raw material costs. The average cost per unit of an imported garment fell by 3.4%. Average cost per SME increased by 12.4% from Mexico, but dropped for all other key trading partners, with the cost per SME from China suffering the biggest drop, at more than 7 percent.
Despite the demise of TPP, Vietnam’s apparel shipments to the U.S. grew by 7.2% to $2.76 billion in the quarter, gaining 1.3 percentage points of share.
China lost the most share of U.S. apparel imports in the period, down 1.1 percentage points to 30.4%. Bangladesh also lost share, with apparel shipments to the U.S. down by 5.9% so far this year.