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Vietnam to Finish as Strong Number Two Supplier of US Apparel in 2016

Vietnam continued to gain share of U.S. apparel imports in November, as the Southeast Asian country remained on track for another record year of apparel shipments to the U.S. Bangladesh and India have also made inroads, with all gaining at the expense of China.

U.S. apparel imports are down more than 5 percent on a dollar basis for the first 11 months of 2016, according to the most recent data from OTEXA, the International Trade Administration’s Office of Textiles and Apparel. U.S. retailers, determined not to get caught with excess inventory at year-end, have been very careful to order in line with and closer to need. Judging from initial results for Holiday 2016 apparel sales, the strategy was a good one, and will help stem financial losses from overly aggressive end-of-season clearance sales.

Total year-to-date apparel imports were $75 billion through November, down from $78.9 billion in the year-earlier period.

On a square meter equivalent (SME) basis, 2016 year-to-date imports fell by 1 percent, indicating a continuing shift toward lower-cost goods compared to the prior year. The cost per SME has dropped by 4.1% so far this year.

The number two source of U.S. apparel imports after China, Vietnam gained 0.9 percentage points of U.S. apparel import share through November, representing 13.4% of total imports, or more than $10 billion.

Though still the largest source of U.S. apparel imports with a 34.9% share, China has lost 1.3 percentage points of U.S. apparel imports so far in 2016, with its year-to-date apparel shipments to the U.S. totaling $26 billion, down 8.4% from the same period last year.

Apparel imports from Cambodia and Pakistan have dropped the most of any top 10 trading partner so far this year, down around 13 percent each.

Imports from CAFTA-DR have picked up nicely in 2016, gaining 0.3 percentage points of share, thanks to an increase in near-shoring that has benefitted El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, all of whom have enjoyed an above-average uptick in apparel exports to the U.S.

Bangladesh, which has edged ahead of Indonesia as the third largest apparel trading partner, has seen its share of U.S. apparel imports grow despite the fact that its shipments have fallen slightly to $4.9 billion so far this year.

Indonesia’s apparel shipments to the U.S. are down by 4.2% so far this year, a 5.9%  percent share.