Vietnams garment and textile exports were 8.61% higher in the first half compared to 2018.

Vietnam's garment and textile exports were 8.61% higher in the first half compared to 2018.

Vietnam's garment and textile exports have risen 8.61% in the first six months of 2019 to US$17.97bn, according to new figures from the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS).

For the first half of 2019, garment exports alone were up 8.71% to US$14.02bn, while textile exports rose 29.9% to US$1.02bn. Fibre and yarn exports reached $2.01bn, an increase of 1.1%.

The US was the largest customer, importing products worth US$7.22bn over the six-month period, up 12.84% year-on-year.

Imports from member countries of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) were 11.13% higher than the same period last year at US$2.57bn, while the EU imported $2.05bn worth of garment and textile products from Vietnam, up 10.46% year-on-year.

However, according to local press, VITAS general secretary Truong Van Cam told a news conference the country had been affected indirectly by the ongoing trade spat between the US and China – with Vietnam's yarn exports to China falling since the start of the year.

To date, turnover for the industry has also grown by less than 9% and, in order to reach its US$40bn turnover target by the end of 2019, it needs to grow by 11-12%.

Achieving this may include further investments in sustainability, and concentrating on the production of high-value items during the second part of the year such as vests, jackets and winter sports goods. He also said businesses need to coordinate with each other to ensure they are meeting rules of origin under the commitments of free trade agreements.

Commenting on the Vietnam-EU Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), he said it would "not create a sudden growth for the industry" adding the impact, post the implementation of such agreements, is always delayed.

For Vietnam's textiles and clothing, EU import duties will be eliminated over an eight-year phase-out period once the agreement comes into force.

There are also concerns over capacity and labour in Vietnam's apparel and textile industry once the EVFTA and the CPTPP trade pact, of which Vietnam is also a signatory, come into force. Added to this, there is extra pressure to find capacity in the country as US brands and retailers shift sourcing away from China to Vietnam over US tariff fears.

At a recent industry event, John McClure, M&S head of sourcing for the Far East, explained the changing role of China in the apparel supply chain, adding Vietnam could be a country to watch with the largest investment of any Southeast Asian country at the moment. 

And AT Kearney's sixth Reshoring Index also highlighted manufacturers are shifting away from China towards low-cost countries such as Vietnam. According to the re:source by just-style strategic sourcing tool, the cost to produce a single white T-shirt in Vietnam is significantly cheaper compared to China, with the cut and make cost at US$1.14 compared to $1.40 respectively, and the labour cost at just $0.08 compared to $0.18.