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U.S. clothing manufacturers seen deserting China for greener pastures

As manufacturers moved to lower-wage countries such as Vietnam, India and Bangladesh to do more of their production, the US imported fewer clothes from China this year than last year. Still, China accounted for 35 per cent of the apparel imported into the US for the 12-month period that ended on October 31. In last few years, China has accounted for as much as 40 per cent of all clothing brought into the country.

The U.S. Commerce Dept. reported that apparel goods coming in from China were down nearly 7 per cent in the one-year period to $28.35 billion. As salaries are rising in Chinese factories, U.S. clothing companies were seen moving production to countries that had lower wages. The most favored country for apparel making after China is now Vietnam that has grown steadily over the years with more apparel factories coming online.

Apparel imports to the US from Vietnam grew 3.7 per cent in the one-year period ending October 31 totaling $10.75 billion. This accounted for 13 per cent of all apparel imported into the United States.

Bangladesh is also growing in importance when it comes to apparel manufacturing. Big retailers such as H&M and Zara have consistently headed to this extremely low-wage country to have goods produced in big factories.

For the one-year period ending in October, Bangladesh exported $5.3 billion worth of clothing to the United States, making up about 6.5 percent of total apparel imports. That was about the same as the previous year. India only exported $3.65 billion worth of apparel to the United States, but when factoring in fabric and other textiles, the total jumped to $7.2 billion in goods.