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China Share of US Apparel Market Flat through May

Apparel imports from Vietnam, Bangladesh and Indonesia grew faster than those from other top partners in the first five months of 2013, according to data just released by the U.S. Department of Commerce. China imports grew at almost the same rate as overall apparel imports, leaving its share of US apparel imports unchanged. Vietnam now has an over 10% share of U.S. apparel imports which, though much smaller than China’s 33% share, is growing the most rapidly of any major trading partner on both a dollar and unit (square meter equivalent basis).

Imports from the Caribbean Basin Initiative countries grew by over 17%, to $319 million, due primarily to increases in imports from Haiti. Imports from other CBI countries were flat , on average. Imports from the DR and Guatemala increased, while those from Cost Rica dropped.

Total apparel imports grew by 3.8% through May compared to the same period last year. Total unit volume, measured on a square meter equivalent basis, increased 6.8% in the year-to-date period, driving the average cost per SME  down 2.8%.

Imports from China have increased by 3.6% on a dollar basis. Most of the gains have been driven by major increases in women’s and girls’ cotton pants, manmade fiber dresses and blouses, and bras and other intimate apparel. Manmade fiber apparel imports from China grew faster, overall, than those of cotton apparel.

Vietnam maintained its strong number two position as an apparel trading partner thanks to increases in manmade fiber dresses, and women’s woven and knit tops. Total apparel imports from Vietnam so far this year are $3 billion, up 12% from last year. The cost per SME of apparel imported from Vietnam has fallen by only .5% year-to-date.

Beleagured Bangladesh has gained .3 points of US apparel market share in the first five months of 2013, to 7% of total apparel imports. Despite the concerns over factory safety, it is now the fourth largest source of US apparel, and may soon rival Indonesia for the number three spot.

The US has imported over $30 billion worth of apparel so far this year. Overall, cotton apparel imports have risen by 1.6% on a dollar basis, while those of man-made fiber apparel have increased by 8%.

India, Mexico, Cambodia and Honduras have suffered the biggest share losses. Both CAFTA and OECD lost share to ASEAN and CBI.