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China Share of US Apparel Market Slips Again in April

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Apparel imports from Vietnam, Bangladesh and Pakistan grew faster than those from China and other top U.S.trading partners in the first four months of 2013.

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 on both a dollar and square meter equivalent (SME, or unit) basis.

Total apparel imports grew 3.3% through April compared to the same period last year, according to the most recent data published by the US Department of Commerce’s Office of Textiles and Apparel. Total unit volume, measured on an SME basis, increased 6.5% in the year-to-date period, driving the average cost per SME  down 3.1%.

Imports from China have increased by 3.5% 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.

Vietnam maintained its strong number two position as an apparel trading partner, at 10.2% of the total, thanks to increases in manmade fiber dresses, and women’s woven and knit tops. Total apparel imports from Vietnam so far this year are $2.4 billion, up 14% from last year. The cost per SME of apparel imported from Vietnam fell by only 1.4% in the month.

Beleagured Bangladesh gained .3 percentage points of US apparel market share in the first four months of 2013, to 7.2% 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 $24 billion worth of apparel so far this year. Overall, cotton apparel imports have been flat, while those of man-made fiber apparel have increased by 9%

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

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