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Trade and trade policy: the US clothing import market, 2nd quarter 2009
published in Issue 6, 2nd Quarter 2009
US clothing imports fell in value by 7.0% to US$67.48 bn during the year ending June 30, 2009. In terms of volume, they were down by 4.9% to 21.8 bn sme. The average price of imports fell by 2.1%.
The largest supplier of clothing to the USA during the year was China with a 34.5% share of the total by value—up by 3.9 percentage points from a share of 30.6% a year earlier. On December 31, 2008, safeguard quotas in place on imports of a number of clothing categories from China were removed by the US government and, as a result, import growth was healthy during January-June 2009. Growth was aided by the fact that Chinese manufacturers coped well with rising labour costs and a strengthened renminbi.
Of the remaining top ten supplying countries, Vietnam and Bangladesh were the only two other suppliers to enjoy strong growth in value and volume terms during the year ending June 30, 2009—despite the fact that China continued to strengthen its position as the USA’s leading supplier of clothing.
In fact imports from Vietnam were up by 8.1% in value and 10.8% in volume, and there was a 2.4% fall in the average import price. Meanwhile, imports from Bangladesh rose by 11.0% in value and by 7.3% in volume, but the average import price went up by 3.4%.
In the case of India, the next most successful supplying country to the USA, US imports rose by 4.9% in volume terms but fell by 6.7% in value—reflecting a significant drop in their average price. Having said that, the average value of the rupee declined against the US dollar during the year. As a result, in terms of rupees, US imports actually rose—by 12.1%—while the average price went up by 6.9%.
The other suppliers in the top ten all performed disappointingly as US imports from those countries fell in value and volume. Somewhat paradoxically, however, Pakistan rose from 12th a year earlier to enter the top ten for the first time in decades—thanks to a weak rupee and considerable help for the textile and clothing sector from the country’s government. Pakistan improved its ranking because US imports from the country fell more slowly than those from the Philippines, which dropped from tenth to 14th position, and El Salvador, which remained in 11th position.
Table of Contents
Trade and trade policy: the US clothing import market
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