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China, Vietnam See Big Gains in 70% US Apparel Imports Surge

Here comes the flood of apparel imports.

As the pandemic wanes in the United States and consumer demand rises, U.S. apparel imports leapt 70.6 percent in April to 2.07 million square meter equivalents (SME), compared to a year earlier when Covid-19 began to overtake the country. For the year to date through April, U.S. companies have imported 21.47 percent more goods, or 8.76 billion SME, according to the Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA).

Despite the ongoing geopolitical rift and the many tariffs still in place, Chinese apparel production appears to be back in good standing, joining with nearly all major suppliers in posting substantial gains for the month and year to date. U.S. imports from top-supplier China jumped 61.7 percent to 549.48 million SME in April compared to a year earlier and were up 39.35 percent in the four-month period to 2.82 billion SME.

Imports from No. 2 supplier Vietnam increased 55 percent for the month to 379.7 SME and gained 17.95 percent year to date to 1.53 billion SME, OTEXA reported. Among other major Asian production powerhouses, imports from India increased 77.2 percent in the month to 116.38 million SME compared to April 2020, while shipments from Bangladesh rose 31.5 percent to 190.54 million SME.

Imports from Indonesia were up 44.5 percent to 112.75 million SME, but were till down year to date, as shipments from Cambodia rose 50 percent to 95.16 million SME and those from Pakistan increased 36.6 percent to 63.57 million SME.

Key Western Hemisphere suppliers also joined in the import barrage. Imports from Mexico, now up 25 percent year to date to 261 million SME, rose 185 percent in April to 70.09 million SME from a year earlier.

Shipments from Honduras and El Salvador skyrocketed more than 1,000 percent in April to 66.52 million SME and 52.85 million SME, respectively, after factories in the Central American countries were basically shut down a year earlier from Covid. Imports from Honduras were up 22.13 percent to 260 million SME year to date and those from El Salvador rose 30.21 percent to 206 million SME in the period.

The other three countries that make up the Central American Free Trade Agreement–Nicaragua, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic–all posted major gains in the month, as did Haiti, which saw its imports to the U.S. crest 264 percent to 38.58 million SME.

Additional second tier countries with significant shipments in April included Egypt, Jordan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey and the Philippines.