Blog: Leonie BarrieEU in pole position on garment imports

Leonie Barrie | 4 August 2014

Data on major garment exporting countries to the US and EU shows who's winning and losing in 2014 so far. The trends suggest the EU is now the world's largest garment importer, with shipments increasing at a rapid pace. In contrast, the US is only showing marginal gains.

Colombia's textiles and apparel industry, meanwhile, is set to grow 7% to $9bn in 2014, buoyed by strong domestic sales. A rise in clothing purchases by Colombian consumers is behind the upsurge, including products made by local designers and brands. But exports, recently a key pillar of industry growth, look disappointing.

US Trade Representative Michael Froman has suggested a number of ways to upgrade the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) - including a new "compact" to boost trade and investment with sub-Saharan African nations. Tariff preferences are not enough, he says.

But East African countries continue to aggressively court foreign investors to revive their textiles and apparel industries, despite the US congress's reluctance to speedily renew AGOA ahead of its September 2015 expiry.

Elsewhere, research suggests US footwear companies are sourcing more from inner China and non-traditional production countries in a bid to offset tariffs and rising costs. While China's share of the US market has fallen 3% over the past year, according to the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA), Vietnam is gaining the most from this drop. 

And Fung Capital USA - the investment arm of Hong Kong-based Fung Group, which includes Li & Fung - is investing in Centric Software, a provider of product lifecycle management (PLM) software to the apparel industry. California-based Centric has secured US$24m from financiers to help its expansion into Asia.

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