U.S. apparel imports grew much slower than imports of all goods and services in February, reversing a trend that began more than a year ago, according to the most current U.S. Department of Commerce data.
Total apparel imports (on a CIF basis) were $7 billion for the month, a 2.4% drop from February 2013 and a significant increase from January’s $7.8 billion. Total goods and services, on the other hand, rose by 0.5%, due largely to increases in consumer goods and foods and beverages. These were partially offset by lower levels of imports of industrial supplies, automotive vehicles and parts and capital goods.
China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Bangladesh were the top sources of U.S. apparel in February, at $2 billion, $729 million, $410 million, and $399 million, respectively, with imports from Vietnam growing the most, at almost 12% over last February.
On a 12-month smoothed basis, which corrects for volatility of data in a particular month, apparel imports gained 2.8%, reflecting a considerable slowdown from January’s 3.8% rate.
Apparel exports rose by 1.1% in February to $459 million, compared to flat total goods and services exports. On a 12-month smoothed basis, apparel exports have been slowing in the past three months, however. Canada is the biggest market for U.S. apparel exports, followed by Mexico, the UK, Japan and Honduras. Exports to the Netherlands have dropped the most so far this year, down 26%.