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September 22, 2022

US apparel imports from Nicaragua gain ground in July

A jump in US apparel imports from Nicaragua during July has seen the Central American nation push El Salvador out of the league table of top 10 apparel suppliers to the US according to official data from the US Office of Textiles and Apparel.

By Hannah Abdulla

During July, US imports of apparel from Nicaragua rose 13.4% to 62 MM2 year-on-year. In volume terms, it came in sixth place of the top 10 apparel suppliers to the US during July.

It is the second consecutive month Nicaragua has booked an increase in apparel shipments to the US, bumping it back into the top 10 supplier list.

Speaking to Just Style recently, The University of Delaware’s associate professor of fashion and apparel studies, Dr Sheng Lu, explains that US fashion brands and retailers are keeping a close eye on Nicaragua mainly because it is the second largest sourcing base in the CAFTA-DR region, accounting for about 22-23% of US apparel sourcing from CAFTA-DR, only after Honduras.

He adds the Biden administration is very keen on expanding apparel sourcing from the CAFTA-DR region as a tool to solve the root cause of migration.

Total apparel imports into the US grew 17.4% to 2,939 MM2.

Here is the breakdown:

  • Of the top 10 apparel suppliers to the US, nine saw shipment volumes grow in July, the largest growth coming from India at 52.3% to 122 MM2.
  • Cambodia also saw significant growth during July of 50% to 128 MM2 on a year-on-year basis.
  • Indonesia experienced the third-largest jump in shipments at 45.9% to 95 MM2.
  • This was followed by China, which remains the largest apparel supplier to the US of the ten. China booked shipment growth of 22.7% to 1,271 MM2.
  • Vietnam, the second largest apparel supplier to the US saw apparel shipment volumes rise 17.4% to 422 MM2.
  • This was followed by Honduras, which experienced a 13.2% increase in shipment volumes to 86 MM2.
  • While Bangladesh, the third largest supplier of apparel to the US, saw shipment volumes grow by 4.38% to 203 MM2, slightly behind Pakistan, which continues to steadily gain ground and saw shipment volumes grow 4.68% to 77 MM2.
  • Mexico was the only one of the top ten to see a decline in shipment volumes to the US of 20.4% to 62 MM2 during July.

Total textile and apparel imports in value terms were up 25% to $12,197 MM2.

Textile imports, in value terms, grew 3.1% to $2.86bn. In volume terms, they were up 10.2% to 7,067 MM2.

India ranks fairly well on the apparel sourcing scorecard from GlobalData, with its ability to create basic products, innovation and ability to develop products with buyers and price advantage sitting between 4 and 4.5 out of 5, though it doesn’t do as well on vertical integration or its ability to source new materials, and its compliance and sustainability are at the lower end of the ranking.

According to research from Just Style, India’s apparel sector is said to be flourishing through sustained domestic sales growth and lucrative government incentives.

Invest India, a central government’s investment promotion agency, said the country’s clothing and textile sector manufactured goods worth US$108.5bn in the financial year ending March 2020. 

And its man-made fibre industry is expected to be central to its growth. There has been a sharper focus on technical textiles and the construction of mega-production units have been major features defining the progress of the India apparel sector.

Until now India’s textile and clothing manufacturing industry has thrived on the reliable supply of domestically produced cotton. However, now with the country’s ministry of textiles setting a target to increase the country’s textile and clothing exports to $100bn by 2026 – up from $30.4bn in the financial year ending March 2021, MMF will be key.

Meanwhile, apparel buyers are set to benefit from a logistics agreement between Cambodia and Thailand, aimed at establishing a cooperation framework that is expected to improve the competitiveness of Southesast Asia’s apparel supply chain

Both countries are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which has established free trade agreements with several leading apparel-importing countries or regions such as the EU, Japan, and the recently implemented Regional Comprehensive and Economic Partnership (RCEP).

A closer partnership between the two on logistics would reduce transportation costs and improve the region’s capacity to meet trade agreements’ rules of origin requirements, and develop an ever more integrated and competitive regional apparel supply chain.

Earlier today (22 September) it was confirmed that Cambodia’s minimum wage will increase to US$200 per month following months of negotiations between trade unions, the government and factory owners.

The minimum wage is an increase of $6. Cambodia’s trade unions had been seeking a minimum wage of US$215 while factory employers were suggesting it remained at $194.

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