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Apparel Imports From China Continue to Decline Amid Trade War

China continues to see its share of U.S. apparel imports erode, as companies shy away from the once-dominant supplier in the midst of a trade war with the United States.

China’s apparel shipments to the United States fell 2 percent in value, to $3.08 billion in August compared to a year earlier, as the volume of U.S. apparel imports from the country declined 0.6%, to 1.29 billion square meter equivalents (SME) in the same period, according to the U.S. Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles & Apparel (OTEXA). Combined, apparel and textile imports from China increased 1 percent, to 3.3 billion SME.

U.S. apparel imports from around the world were up 1.4% in August year-to-year, to $8.37 billion in value, and increased 1.3% in volume, to 2.73 billion SME, according to OTEXA. Textile imports grew 7.7% in the period, to 3.66 billion SME.

Among the top 10 suppliers, apparel imports from Vietnam, the United States second biggest apparel and textiles supplier, rose 1.21% in August, to 331 million SME, and increased 2.7%, to $1.84 billion in value from a year earlier. Third-place Bangladesh’s shipments increased 2.52%, to 158 million SME, but fell 2.4%, to $453.62 million in value in the period.

Elsewhere in Asia, imports from Indonesia were up 5.92%, to 104 million SME; India’s shipments rose 0.24%, to 84 million SME; Cambodia’s increased 1.11%, to 90 million SME; and Pakistan’s rose 16.51%, to 52 million SME.

Top Western Hemisphere suppliers saw mixed results. Apparel shipments from Honduras fell 11.3%, to 87 million SME, and El Salvador’s declined 4.01%, to 69 million SME.

Mexico’s apparel shipments rose 5.73%, to 75 million SME, but declined 1.9% in value, to $307.16 million. Mexico could see a boost from the new trilateral free trade agreement with the United States and Canada, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), that now rids the market of the uncertainty hurting its exports to the United States as the fate of the North American Free Trade Agreement was in limbo.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that U.S. trade deficit goods increased $3.2 billion, to $53.2 billion in August from July, including a $34.4 billion goods deficit with China despite tariffs imposed on a range of materials. August exports were $209.4 billion, $1.7 billion less than July exports, while August imports totaling $262.7 billion were $1.5 billion more than in July.