The gap between the benefits of sourcing apparel in the Far East versus the western hemisphere is closing, a survey of senior sourcing executives suggests.

The research carried out by the American Apparel Producers' Network (AAPN), looked at apparel suppliers' knowledge of the US market, verticality, market speed, cost, ease of doing business, product development, social compliance and sustainability risk assessment.

And the results of the AAPN Asia/Americas report card saw the West score 3.1 against 3.5 for the East.

The AAPN said the scores were "much closer than we thought". Of the 31 criteria, 10 leaned to the West and the rest to the East.

"The gap is closing, getting better," and the "West is beginning to listen to us, anticipating our needs," were among comments made in the study.

Others included: "In the West, mainstream (core) products are well covered"; "West is as fast, or faster than Asia - we see it in weekly WIP movements"; "West has proximity to the US market, plus their mature logistics model and set of processes"; "West more flexible than East, can handle smaller lot sizes, willing to make exceptions"; "We have more compliance issues in the East, more unethical behaviour there."

The report will be regularly updated, and the AAPN hopes it will set the "standard" for comparing regions, countries and companies against each other.

The supply chain network emphasised that no factory, country or region can fill out the form, but that it has to be done by customers in the US, Europe or elsewhere.