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US Apparel Import Decline Backs Off, But Still Down $47 Billion in 2020

As consumer demand slowly returned, U.S. apparel imports were down 15 percent to $6.65 billion in value terms in September compared to a year earlier, easing off a year-to-date decline of 27.71 percent to $47.03 billion, according to data released Wednesday by the Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles & Apparel (OTEXA).

Year-to-year volume was off 4.6 percent for the month to 2.46 million square meter equivalents (SME). For the first nine months of the year, apparel import volume was down 22.4 percent to 16.73 million SME compared to a year earlier, according to OTEXA.

Still-top supplier China has seen its apparel imports to the U.S. fall 45.49 percent to $10.98 billion in the first nine months of the year. Year-over-year imports from China were down 29 percent to $1.82 billion.

All Top 10 suppliers except Cambodia have seen their imports decline in the nine-month period. Imports from No. 2 supplier Vietnam declined 9.05 percent to $$9.42 billion and shipments from third-place Bangladesh fell 13.23 percent to $3.96 billion.

Imports from Cambodia increased 3.14 percent in the period to $2.09 billion in the nine months, but were down 3.2 percent in the month to $289.21 million compared to September 2019. Pakistan’s shipments rose 9.8 percent in September year over year to $140.25 million, but were down 13.1 percent in the nine months to $958 million.

Rounding out the top Asian suppliers, imports from Indonesia decreased 21.28 percent year to date to $2.68 billion and shipments from India fell 29.89 percent to $2.28 billion.

Among the top Western Hemisphere nations, imports from Honduras were down a year-to-date 39.53 percent to $1.25 billion, while shipments from Mexico fell 33.61 percent to $1.6 billion and imports from El Salvador declined 38.69 percent to $858 million. On the plus side from the region year to year in September was Guatemala, with shipments up 13.8 percent to $117.75 million.

Also on Wednesday, the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that the goods and services trade deficit was $63.9 billion in September, down $3.2 billion from $67.0 billion in August.

The deficit with China decreased $2.1 billion to $24.3 billion in September and the trade imbalance with Mexico fell $1.8 billion to $10.7 billion, while the deficit with the European Union increased $1.6 billion to $17.3 billion.