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Apparel Lags Total U.S. Import Growth in April

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Apparel couldn’t keep pace with imports of total goods and services in April, according to data released this week by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

After surging 9 percent in March, total apparel imports (on a CIF basis) were $6.8 billion in April, a mere 2.2% increase over April 2013.

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Total imported goods and services jumped by 5.2%, primarily due to an increase in imports of consumer goods, automobiles, and capital goods. These were somewhat offset by a decrease in imports of industrial supplies and materials.

China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Bangladesh were the top sources of U.S. apparel in the month, at $1.8 billion, $686 million, $432 million, and $394 million, respectively, with imports from Vietnam growing the most, 16.5% ahead of last April.

On a 12-month smoothed basis, which corrects for volatility of data in a particular month, apparel import growth slowed to 3.2% from March’s 3.5% rate of increase.

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Apparel exports, on the other hand, leaped by an impressive 5.7% in the month to $475 million, compared to an overall 3.2% jump in total goods and services exports. On a 12-month smoothed basis, apparel exports picked up slightly in April compared to the several months prior. Canada is the biggest market for U.S. apparel exports, followed by Mexico, the U.K., Japan and Honduras. Apparel exports to Germany have grown by 33 percent so far this year, making it one of the top 10 destinations for U.S. apparel exports, while those to the Netherlands have dropped by 23 percent.

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