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Vietnam Continues to Gain Share of U.S. Apparel Imports

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Total apparel imports for the first seven months of 2014 increased by 2.2 percent compared to the same period last year, to $45.7 billion, according to data released last week by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA). Total unit volume, measured on a square meter equivalent basis, increased by 1.9%, driving up the average cost per SME by 0.2%.

Vietnam has enjoyed the biggest share gain of U.S. apparel imports so far this year, growing from 10.2% of total apparel imports in the first six months of 2013 to 11.3% in 2014, a 1.15 percentage point share gain. In June, U.S. apparel imports from Vietnam totaled a record $889 million, a 6 percent gain over last June, bringing the year-to-date total ahead 13.7% to $5.2 billion.

Vietnam is exporting more expensive garments to the U.S. than in the past, with its cost per SME up by 2.2% so far this year. Key categories for Vietnam are: women’s cotton knit tops, women’s and men’s cotton pants, women’s manmade fiber knit tops and dresses, and cotton underwear.

China has suffered the biggest share loss so far in 2014, dropping from 35 percent to 34.1%, a 0.9 percentage point loss. China’s apparel shipments to the U.S. dipped by 3.6% in July, to $3.2 billion. Units (on an SME basis) increased by 2.1%.

Key product categories from China include women’s cotton knit tops, women’s and men’s cotton pants, women’s manmade fiber knit tops and dresses, manmade fiber hosiery and  manmade fiber bras.

Indonesia edged ahead of Bangladesh as the third largest source of apparel to the U.S. on a dollar basis, though it lags in unit volume. Both countries have lost share in the first half of this year, however.

Bangladesh’s exports to the U.S. have declined by 1.7% in dollars on a year-to-date basis amid demands by U.S. apparel customers requiring factories there to invest in and improve safety conditions. Apparel imports from Indonesia have dropped by 4.6% so far this year, with units down 3.5%.

India has gained a small amount of U.S. apparel import share so far this year. Key categories include men’s and women’s cotton and manmade fiber knit and woven tops.

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