US Textile & Apparel Import Spectrum


Dedicated to amazing passion of Bob Berger for outreaching and uplifting our textile profession.


The Office of Textile and Apparel, OTEXA, has released recent US textile and apparel import trade data. Digging deeper, we analyze the following trade data in perspective. The analysis reveals many interesting insights. Who are the top five trading partners of USA in 2009? Collectively, these top five players enjoy over 60% of the US apparel market share, but the value and supply chain vary significantly. The US imports of fabrics and yarns are more science and technology driven while it's apparel imports are more favorable to cheap workforce and strategic partnership. How will these markets evolve in the future? Explore more….


Table 1 illustrates the 2008-2009 US apparel import  in dollar value ($M), volume (MSME), value-chain ($/SME) and change in value ($) and volume (MSME). In 2009, the overall US apparel import shrunk about 12% in dollar value and 6% in volume  from 2008. 


The US imports of fabrics and yarns in 2008-2009 are presented in Table 2 and Table 3 respectively. These tables also compare the business volume of the top five trading partners of the US and the change in their market share during 2008-09.


Table 1: US Apparel Imports  2008-2009.

Year2008 2009+/- 2008-09
 Country US$M MSME $/SME US$M MSME $/SME %$%Vol
 World 71568.371 22694.040 3.154 63104.701 21317.220 2.960 -11.83 -6.07
 China 22922.615 7788.658 2.943 23503.010 8623.273 2.726 2.53 10.72
 Vietnam 5223.491 1527.740 3.419 5068.333 1612.177 3.144 -2.97 5.53
 Bangladesh 3441.642 1436.237 2.396 3409.775 1383.833 2.464 -0.93 -3.65
 Indonesia 4028.416 1099.227 3.665 3860.998 1069.647 3.610 -4.16 -2.69
 Honduras 2604.028 1331.118 1.956 2031.614 1005.794 2.020 -21.98 -24.44


Table 2: US Fabric Imports 2008-2009.

 Year 2008 20092008-09 
 Country MSME MSME +/- %
 World 7816.0977399.433-5.33
 China 1688.491 1901.95112.64
 S. Korea 947.053 902.628-4.69
 Canada 734.943 573.128-22.02
 India 506.679 476.706-5.92
 Mexico 505.349 438.062-13.32


Table 3: US Yarn Imports 2008-2009.

 Year 2008 20092008-09 
 Country MSME MSME +/- %
 World2912.057  2377.649-18.35
 Canada 363.346 406.82011.97
 S. Korea 471.147 400.989-14.89
 Mexico 380.935 272.405-28.49
 China 331.610 267.585-19.31
 Indonesia 311.300 242.667-22.05

MSME: Million Square Meter Equivalent. SME: Square Meter Equivalent. Data Source: OTEXA & CTIA.

Data Analysis & Compilation: TexTek Solutions & MW Canada R&D.


Data Analysis and Observations:

— The US imports over $200 worth of apparel per capita, totaling over $63 billion in 2009 compared to over $71 billion in 2008. This is primarily due to the fierce financial turmoil in the US.

— China, the largest trade partner of the USA, exports almost one third of US apparel import and earns $2.7/SME below the global average approximately $3/SME.

— China, Vietnam, Bangladesh Indonesia and Honduras are the five top apparel trading partners of USA. Together they enjoy over 60% US apparel market share. Among them, Indonesia earns $3.6/SME, while Honduras earns only $2/SME.

— The US apparel imports vary significantly in value and volume. The market is fairly favorable to cheap workforces, least developing countries and strategic political partnerships.

— For fabric and yarn sourcing, the US imports are more dependent to value-added supply-chain for developing advanced textile materials with sophisticated functional features.

— In 2009, Bangladesh's apparel sectors, with over 3.1 million workforce (90% women), earned over $12 billion from its exports – mostly from the US and EU markets. 



Bob Berger, President, MW Canada has an interesting idea. This spectrum is likely to change over time. Staging the recent World Cup in South Africa is building the initial infrastructures for creating the future trading inroads. So whoever enjoys significant US market share today has no guarantee of their future tomorrow. The key is building bridges, infrastructures, cross-cultural relationships and strategies for future facing the fierce competition in our global village.


Canada, China, India, South Korea, US and advanced countries are moving more towards value-added textile technology and knowledge based econmy. They include exploiting science and technology for developing advanced materials, integrating features/technology to textile structures and transformation of innovations for challenging applications. The advanced countries have minimized the salary and wage gap between their top and bottom-line workforce. In high-impact manufacturing where innovation and continuous improvements are critical, it is all about how well we stimulate the partnership with our people to promote our productivity. Invest on your people and technology. They are your economic engine, energy to your existence. Simply, take care of your people. They will take care of you.


After a long struggle, facing the protests, violence and spill of blood, Bangladesh has raised the minimum wage for the garments workers from 1,662.50 taka to 3,000 taka (~$43) a month, to be effective from November 2010; the workers' groups and unions wanted 5,000 taka. This new wage includes an allowance of 200 taka for medical and 800 taka for housing.


The accelerated economic growth in Asia is likely to shake the life of 160 million people on the tiny land of 144,000 sq. km. Our planet is changing rapidly. How well Bangladeshi manufacturers will share the benefits and build relationships with their bottom-line will dictate their productivity and growth potential. Imagine your bottom-line as your children. How do you want them to grow? In fact, your bottom-line is your life-line. They enhance your economic existence. How do you like to nurture your life-line? Empower your bottom-line to enhance your life-line. Building a stimulating relationship and work environment are crucial to promote your productivity.


Government, University and Industry should work together to exploit science and technology and create mutual opportunity to propel our progress. Vision creates value.


What do you think?


Acknowledgements: TexTek Solutions :: MW Canada. 


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