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China’s Dominance in US Apparel Imports Restored in February

The apparel market has finally recovered from the soaring cotton prices that took their toll on imports  in 2011 and 2012. So far this year, the dollar value of apparel imports has increased 5%, while units are up 10%. The average cost per square meter equivalent has declined 5%.

China has been the main beneficiary of this, as its share of US apparel imports has so far this year increased by over 10% and soared two percentage points, to over 37% of total US apparel imports. Most of China’s gains came during the month of February, and were driven by major increase in women’s and girls cotton pants and manmade fiber dress and blouses. The increase in pants imports was driven by strong colored jeans trends for Spring/Summer 2013. Manmade fiber bras and other intimate apparel also enjoyed a nice bump.

According to data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Office of Textiles and Apparel, or OTEXA, China has shipped $4.8 million worth of apparel into the U.S. so far in 2013 or, in unit terms, 1.7 billion SMEs (square meter equivalents).  The cost per SME from China dropped 7.1%, more than the overall decline.

Vietnam gained .9 points of share, maintaining its strong number two position as a US apparel trading partner, at 10.2% of the total, thanks to increases in imports of manmade fiber dresses and women’s woven and knit tops.


Total apparel imports from Vietnam were $1.3 billion, a 15% increase over the first two months of 2012. The cost per SME of apparel imported from Vietnam fell by 3.2% in the month.

The US has imported almost $13 billion worth of apparel in 2013 on a CIF basis. Overall, the total value of cotton apparel increased by only 1%, while that of man-made fiber apparel increased by over 10%

India, Mexico and Cambodia suffered the biggest share losses, resulting in a loss to South Asia of .8 percentage points of share. Bangladesh’s share remained flat at 6.9%.