USA- Apparel imports from Europe buck generalised downward trend in 2023

Good news for European apparel producers, faced with a slowdown in local consumption and a drop in order values within their own borders, as Europe was hit hard by inflation last year. Driven by the luxury sector, US imports from Italy and France grew by 3.5% (to $2 billion) and 10.8% (to $203 million) respectively, while imports from the UK were stable at $126 million.It is worth noting that, in 2021, the US imported $2.4 billion worth of European apparel, and topped the $3 billion mark in 2022, a result that was however below the $3.8 billion worth of goods imported in 2019, before the pandemic. However, the value of US apparel imports from all other regions of the world fell in 2023, so the fact that imports from the EU were on par with fiscal 2022 was an exception to the general trend.

US apparel imports from China, which grew by 11.3% in 2022, fell by 25% last year, down to $16.3 billion. Imports from Vietnam, the USA’s second-largest apparel supplier, grew by 27% in 2022, but fell by 22.2% in 2023, to $14.1 billion. Unlike the two previous countries, Bangladesh managed to stay above the level reached in 2021, with $7.3 billion worth of exports to the US, equivalent however to a 25% drop compared to 2023.In general, Western and US brands placed very large orders ahead of fiscal 2022, predicting a strong post-pandemic recovery and trying to protect themselves from renewed shipping disruption, and in some cases to obtain better prices from their suppliers. But selling off such large inventory proved to be tougher than expected, leading to a generalised drop in orders for 2023. A “normalisation” that was also reflected in EU sourcing figures (as reported in this article). Only European apparel producers have managed to escape the slump in orders placed by US buyers in 2023. Imports from India fell by 21.4%, those from Indonesia by 25.1%, from Cambodia by 22.5%, from Honduras by 23.6%, and even imports from neighbouring Mexico dropped by 10.9%.US textiles imports fell by 15.7% in 2023, down to $27.1 billion, after remaining relatively stable at a value of $31.1 billion in 2021 and 2022. In this sector, the EU was no exception to the general downturn, its textiles exports to the USA falling by 13% in 2023, to $2.3 billion.

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