Total apparel imports (on a CIF basis) were $6.7 billion for the month, a surprising 9% jump from March 2013, given that March is usually a relatively light month for apparel imports. Total goods and services, on the other hand, rose by only 6%, due largely to lower levels of industrial supplies imports, and flat automotive vehicles and parts imports. These were somewhat offset by increases in consumer goods and foods and beverages.
China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Bangladesh were the top sources of U.S. apparel in February, at $1.5 billion, $662 million, $461 million, and $432 million, respectively, with imports from Vietnam growing the most, 23% ahead of last March.
On a 12-month smoothed basis, which corrects for volatility of data in a particular month, apparel imports gained 3.5%, reflecting a considerable acceleration from February’s 2.8% rate of increase.
Apparel exports edged up by a negligible 0.3% in the month to $507 million, compared with an impressive 4% jump in total goods and services exports. On a 12-month smoothed basis, apparel exports have been slowing in the past several months. Canada is the biggest market for U.S. apparel exports, followed by Mexico, the UK, Japan and Honduras. Apparel exports to Germany have grown by 25% so far this year, while those to the Netherlands have dropped by 23%.