Apparel Sourcing Intelligence - Worldwide

Rich country imports from Bangladesh continue slide in November as Vietnam looks 2014’s big success story

Rich country garment imports from Bangladesh fell year on year in November for the third time in four months, as Bangladesh’s sales to the EU continued to fall – though far less than its rate of sales decline to the US. Rich country apparel imports, measured in square metres of fabric, grew 3% on November 2013, bringing import growth for the 11 months to 6.7%

Rich country import growth November

Among other major sources: though US imports from Cambodia also continued to fall in November, growing sales to Japan and the EU kept Cambodian growth high, while Vietnam – with booming sales to all three major destinations – looks certain to be the major success story of 2014.

India’s 2014 export spurt (rich country imports from it have grown in double digits almost every month this year) was slowed abruptly by a November fall in US imports: growth in sales to Japan and the EU have remained steady. Imports from Indonesia have been erratic all year from all three destinations.

Turkey’s steady, if slow, growth comes almost entirely from sales to the EU: it is really the only major nearshoring source to have been able to exploit the much-reported, but little observed, trend to buying more near where customers live, as imports from Europe’s other neighbours have been sluggish. Honduras’s slow decline since 2008 has been faster than elsewhere in the region – but US neighbours overall have also lost share of the US market in the past five years, and with the volume of US imports from then Americas up  only 1.7% in the first 11 months, there is no sign of any real growth in US nearshoring.

Pakistan’s decline comes from sharp falls in sales to the US, and no inroads into the Japanese market, counteracting Pakistan’s healthy growth in sales to the EU since it got duty free access under then GSP+ programme. The extraordinary irony is that Sri Lanka’s share of the EU garment market has been higher since it lost its GSP+ concession than it was when it had what everyone thought was a major competitive advantage.

Among widely-tipped “next hotspots”: imports from Burma, which until September  grew at over 50%, increased just 18% in November. Growth in Japanese imports fluctuated between 60% and 70% in the first half of the year, fell to 30%-40% in the third quarter, then declined in November after a flat October. Exports to the EU grew far faster, though those to the US remain negligible. Kenya is now overwhelmingly the biggest apparel exporter in Africa, with sales 30% higher than those from Mauritius. Total monitored apparel exports from Ethiopia were just 5% up year on year – though may be mainly routed through Turkey

Average prices in importers’ currencies continued to drift down slowly.