A third and final review of apparel imports from Vietnam has led the US Commerce Department to conclude there is insufficient evidence that the country's apparel shipments are being unfairly priced.

In a statement on Friday (21 November) David Spooner, Assistant Secretary for Import Administration  said: "This final investigation reveals that prices of Vietnamese apparel are in line with, and in most cases even exceed, other major suppliers, including Central America."

The import-monitoring program covering certain textile and apparel products from Vietnam was launched when Vietnam joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in January 2007.

Since then, data has been reviewed every six months to see whether any textile or apparel goods from Vietnam have been dumped in the US - that is, sold at an unfair price, which is often lower than the producer's sales price in the country of origin or its cost of production.

Laura E Jones, executive director of the US Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel, said Friday's decision is evidence that: "The market is working in Vietnam.

"Prices are being set through the give and take of negotiations between US buyers and manufacturers with operations in Vietnam."

The Commerce Department examined import data for five different apparel product groups from Vietnam - trousers, shirts, underwear, swimwear and sweaters - between February and July 2008.

The review determined that during this period, the US did not import apparel from 208 of nearly 500 ten-digit Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) lines within the five groups from Vietnam.

Many of the remaining ten-digit HTS lines had rising unit values, further indicating that dumping is not taking place.

Trends in unit values and import levels were then compared with other US suppliers, including Bangladesh, CAFTA-DR (Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua), Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Thailand.

Jones adds that instead of bringing orders back to the US, the reviews simply forced retailers and importers to reconsider their sourcing plans, "adding costs, undermining efficiencies and diverting apparel orders to other suppliers."

This is the final review under the import monitoring program that will conclude at the end of the current Administration.

The Commerce Department will continue to post import data for these product groups on the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Import Monitoring Program website, until 20 January 2009.

The most recent trade data shows that US apparel imports from Vietnam have risen by 21.9% between January and September this year, to $3.35bn from $4.08bn a year earlier.

Vietnam is now the US' second largest apparel supplier. In turn, the US accounts for about 58% of its total apparel exports, more than twice its exports to Europe (19%) and Japan (9%) combined.