2018 Retrospective: China Still Dominates U.S. Apparel Imports Despite Trade War With United States

If you thought U.S. clothing companies were shying away from China to make their wide array of imported garments, think again.

The gargantuan country with 1.38 billion people still accounts for nearly 36.5 percent of all the apparel imported into the United States, though that is down from the 41.5 percent it used to make up in 2010.

For the 12 months ending in October, the United States brought in $40.3 billion in apparel, textiles and yarns from China, a 5.25 percent uptick over last year.

Still, there is a shift out of the country after the Trump administration earlier this year imposed an additional 10 percent in tariffs on $200 billion of imported Chinese goods. Those tariffs covered textiles and handbags but not apparel.

The main beneficiary of this shift out of China is Vietnam, which continues to be the second largest apparel provider to the United States. Vietnam now accounts for 11.75 percent of all the textiles and apparel the U.S. brings into the country.

For the 12 months ending in October, apparel and textile imports were up 8.44 percent over the previous year, totaling $1.3 billion.

Two other countries that are still popular go-to spots for apparel production include India and Bangladesh, where wages and costs are low.

Mexico came in fifth as the most popular spot to produce apparel and textiles, which in the future will be helped by the North American Free Trade Agreement, or the newly named U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which still needs to be approved by Congress.

For the 12 months ending in October, Mexico shipped $4.74 billion in textiles and apparel, up nearly 1 percent over last year.