How quickly goods are getting through the ports remains problematic, but U.S. apparel imports continued to climb in August, increasing 17.1 percent compared to a year earlier to 2.84 billion square meter equivalents (SME), according to the Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles & Apparel (OTEXA).
For the first eight months of the year, apparel imports were up 31.25 percent to 18.71 billion SME. All major suppliers participated in the surge for retailers and brands to bring in vital fourth-quarter goods. Even key producers Vietnam and Cambodia, which had seen their shipments fall off in July due to factory closures from Covid-19 and other labor woes, saw their numbers improve.
Imports from No. 2 supplier Vietnam increased 22.3 percent compared to August 2020 to 425.87 million SME, after declining a year-over-year 8 percent to 359.72 million SME in July. For the year to date, shipments from Vietnam rose 22.68 percent to 3.02 billion SME.
OTEXA data released Tuesday showed imports from Cambodia, which had fallen 29 percent in July year over year, bounced back to an 18 percent rise to 127.77 million SME in August, bringing its shipments up 12.45 percent to 773 million SME for the year to date.
China, too, is seeing an improving trend.
In announcing a new approach to the U.S.-China trade relationship on Monday, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said, “the reality is [the Phase One] agreement did not meaningfully address the fundamental concerns that we have with China’s trade practices and their harmful impacts on the U.S. economy.”
“Even with the Phase One agreement in place, China’s government continues to pour billions of dollars into targeted industries, and continues to shape its economy to the will of the state, hurting the interests of workers here in the U.S. and around the world,” Tai said.
While it still faces tariffs from the Biden administration for now, China’s comeback from the import valley of the Trump administration’s trade war seems to be in full force. Imports from the top supplier rose 15.6 percent in August versus a year earlier to 1.2 billion SME and were up 34.92 percent to 6.68 billion SME for the year to date.
The rest of the Top 10 suppliers followed suit and posted significant gains in year-to-date and monthly comparisons. Asian production hubs Bangladesh, India, Indonesia and Pakistan saw their imports rise 32.76 percent to 1.64 billion SME, 43.3 percent to 827 million SME, 12.22 percent to 701 million SME and 55.03 percent to 578 million SME year to date, respectively. For the month, Bangladesh’s imports were up 12.5 percent to 425.87 million SME, India’s shipments were up 19.8 percent to 98.31 million SME compared to August 2020, Indonesia’s rose 22.3 percent to 99.44 million SME and Pakistan’s increased 32.2 percent to 73.26 million SME.
Rounding out the Top 10 were Western Hemisphere producers Honduras, Mexico and El Salvador. For the year so far, imports from Honduras were up 42.46 percent to 572 million SME, but were down 8.3 percent year over year for the month to 75.4 million SME.
Shipments from Mexico rose 8.3 percent in August from a year earlier to 71.1 million SME and have increased 25.02 percent year to date to 561 million SME, while imports from El Salvador rose 8.5 percent year over year in August to 51.14 million SME, cutting into a 59.78 percent surge for the year to date to 428 million SME.
In conjunction with OTEXA’s monthly data release, the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis announced that the U.S. trade deficit rose to $73.3 billion in August, up $2.9 billion from a revised $70.3 billion in July.
The August increase in the goods and services deficit reflected an increase in the goods deficit of $1.6 billion to $89.4 billion and a decrease in the services surplus of $1.4 billion to $16.2 billion. The trade deficit with China increased $3.1 billion to $28.1 billion in August.