Trade Update: Apparel Imports from China post Big Double-Digit Decline in October on a Year-Over-Year Basis

Apparel imports from China fell even more sharply in October year over year than in September, as the Trump administration’s tariffs continued to propel a shift in sourcing.

Apparel imports from China to the U.S. fell 30.4 percent by quantity in October compared with October 2018, according to the Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA) monthly report released on Dec.5.

The administration began imposing retaliatory tariffs on finished apparel and textile on Sept. 1, as part of its crackdown on China’s intellectual property abuses.

“The steep decline in apparel imports from China in October on a year-over- year basis, marks the second month of declines since the Trump administration imposed tariffs on finished apparel and textile products from China and is a strong indicator that there is a shift in sourcing,” said NCTO President and CEO Kim Glas. “As U.S. manufacturers that have suffered enormously from China’s illegal IPR activities and state-sponsored export subsidies, we have long supported the administration’s crackdown on intellectual property violations. The tariffs on finished products are the only way to maintain leverage and truly resolve China’s rampant IPR abuse.”

For the year-to-date, apparel imports from China fell 2.25%, while apparel imports declined 1.2% for the year ending Oct. 31, according to OTEXA.

Glas said the administration’s actions against China could ultimately help lead to sourcing shifts to the Western Hemisphere, which is the U.S. textile industry’s largest export market.

Textile mill product exports to the Western Hemisphere declined 2.5 percent for the year-to-date as well as for the year ending Oct. 31.

But textile exports to some individual countries in the region increased. Honduras, a partner in the Central American Free Trade Agreement or (CAFTA-DR), posted an 8.5 percent increase by quantity for the year-to-date through October

There were also other bright spots in the data, particularly in apparel imports from the Western Hemisphere, which largely incorporate U.S. textile inputs. Apparel imports to the U.S. from the region rose 0.88 percent for the year ending October.

“Early indications in the trade data show that sourcing is shifting. Apparel imports from the Western Hemisphere that largely incorporate U.S. textile inputs increased modestly and if it continues, this is a trend that will have positive implications for the U.S. textile industry,” Glas said.