Apparel Sourcing Intelligence - Worldwide

Chinese exports fall: the great tipping point?

The announcement that China’s apparel exports actually fell in value during February 2008 had been expected for some time. In fact, the number of garments the US imported from China actually started falling in November 2007, and China’s share of the world apparel trade was lower in the fourth quarter of 2007 than it had been in 2006.

The problem isn’t just softness in the US market. China’s falling share has coincided with a number of new trends:
– Growth in the share of the US market held by Central American countries, as DR-CAFTA has finally started to have an impact
– Vietnam’s growth has been spectacular, as a vendor both to the US and EU, bringing Laos along in its wake
– Growth in China’s domestic market continues to be stellar. Some time in Spring 2008, China will overtake Japan as the world’s second largest clothing market by value- though it’s already well ahead in the volume of clothes

And we talk about China’s growing importance as a source of capital for other manufacturing centres in another blog.

China will probably continue to be the biggest provider of value clothes to the rich world for several decades yet. But the days of China’s inevitably taking share from other countries, and of its businesses uniquely dependent on sales to rich countries are probably now over.