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US Apparel Imports Increase, China Remains Top Supplier

US textile and apparel imports continued to increase as retailers built inventory for their anticipated back-to-school clothing, footwear and accessories sales.

Total US apparel imports for July were up 6.5 percent more than imports for July, 2012.

Domestic imports of apparel, measured in square meter equivalents (SME), were up 4.8 percent over the same period last year, to 5.3 billion SME, according to data from the US Department of Commerce’s Office of Textile and Apparel (OTEXA).

Although Bangladesh and Vietnam both enjoyed double-digit increases in their apparel exports to the US, China remained the chief foreign supplier of US apparel and footwear.

In July, China’s shipments to the US were up 5.92 percent over the same period last year to 2.66 billion SME.  Close behind was India with an increase of 5.4 percent to 300 million SME.

But Vietnam topped the list of biggest percentage gainers, in third place after India, with a 14.9 percent increase to 319 million SME.  Bangladesh was in sixth place among apparel exporters to the US with a 16.6 percent increase to 187 million SME.

Losing ground were Pakistan, with a 6.6 percentage decline in apparel and textile exports to the US at 216 million SME, along with a drop of 15.4 percent for South Korea to 111 million SME.

Total imports from South Asia, a growing regional manufacturing source, was up 4.6 percent to 739 million SME.  Imports from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) increased 9.2 percent to 692 million SME.

Looking at year-to-date numbers for July, the latest month for which accurate and comprehensive data is available, the top five apparel exporters to the US are:

China, with a year-to-date increase of 6.0 percent to 5.48 billion SME.

Vietnam, with a year-to-date increase of 13.0 percent to 1.4 billion SME.

Bangladesh, with a year-to-date increase of 10.8 percent to 1.0 billion SME.

Indonesia, with a year-to-date increase of 4.6 percent to 807 million SME.

Honduras, with a year-to-date decline of 1.9 percent to 622 million SME.