US Apparel Imports are Still Down in ’21, But This Sourcing Nation Bucks the Trend

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April 13, 2021

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US Apparel Imports are Still Down in ’21, But This Sourcing Nation Bucks the Trend

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.

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