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Apparel Drives Import Growth in January

U.S. apparel imports grew much faster than imports of all goods and services in January, according to the most current U.S. Department of Commerce data, continuing a trend that began more than a year ago.

Total apparel imports (on a CIF basis) were $7.8 billion for the month, a 3% rise over January 2013 and a significant increase from December’s $6.6 billion. Imports of all goods and services, on the other hand, fell by .1%, due largely to lower levels of imports of industrial supplies, automotive vehicles and parts and capital goods.

China, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Indonesia were the top sources of U.S. apparel sources in January, at $2.6 billion, $784 million, $481 million, and $455 million, respectively, with imports from Vietnam growing the most, at 16% over last January.


On a 12-month smoothed basis, which corrects for volatility of data in a particular month, apparel imports gained 3.8%, reflecting a slight slowdown since December’s 3.9% rate.


Apparel exports rose a negligible .5% in January to $437 million, much slower than the of total goods and services exports. On a 12-month smoothed basis, apparel exports have been slowing on the past two months.  Canada was the biggest export market for apparel, at $147 million, reflecting a .5% drop compared to January 2013, followed by Mexico ($71 million), the United Kingdom ($26 million) and Japan ($20 million). The biggest increases in the month, however, were to El Salvador, where exports were up 16.5% to $9.1 million, and Germany, where they jumped almost 50% to $8.6 million. Exports to the Netherlands dropped 31% to $5.1 million.