U.S. apparel imports for the first two months of 2021–which marked the beginning of factory shutdowns in Asia last year and a pickup in demand in the States this year as vaccines rolled out–still declined 13.84 percent year over year to a value of $10.92 billion, the Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles & Apparel (OTEXA) reported Wednesday.
Only Pakistan of the Top 10 apparel suppliers saw an increase in the value of shipments to the U.S., up 13.45 percent to $270 million. Imports from China, still the largest supplier even as its market share has narrowed significantly the past couple of years during the pandemic and tariff-fueled trade war with the U.S., posted a decline of 9.22 percent in the period to $2.45 billion, according to OTEXA.
Among the other major Asian producers for U.S. brands and retailers, imports from No. 2 Vietnam declined 12.09 percent year to date through February to $2.1 billion and third-place Bangladesh’s shipments fell 13.11 percent to $1 billion.
Imports from Cambodia decreased 14.08 percent to $451 million, India’s shipments were down 21.89 percent to $594 million and imports from Indonesia fell 29.62 percent to $553 million.
Rounding out the Top 10 were Western Hemisphere supplier nations Mexico, which saw its imports drop 13.25 percent to 282 million; Honduras, with shipments off 11.74 percent to $331 million, and El Salvador, with a decline of 10.63 percent to $242 million.
Looking deeper into OTEXA data, for the month of February compared to a year earlier, apparel import volume ticked up 3.2 percent to 2.07 billion square meter equivalents (SME).
Notable volume gains were posted by China, up 24 percent to 718.34 SME; Pakistan, increasing 25 percent to 62.1 SME; Egypt, gaining 24.6 percent to 30.57 SME, Bangladesh, ahead 2.3 percent to 194.08 SME, and Guatemala, up 3.1 percent to $29.38 SME.
China also saw a 6.8 percent year-to-year gain in the month in value terms to $1.15 billion amid continued controversy over human rights in the country, as did Pakistan, up 15.3 percent to $123.09 million.
Also on Wednesday, the U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Economic Analysis announced that the U.S. trade deficit increased $3.3 billion to $71.1 billion in February. The February increase reflected an increase in the goods deficit of $2.8 billion to $88 billion and a decrease in the services surplus of $50 million to $16.9 billion.