Textiles and Apparel
Changes in 2021 from 2020:
- U.S. total exports: Increased by $3.4 billion (18.3 percent) to $22.3 billion
- U.S. domestic exports: Increased by $2.7 billion (18.5 percent) to $17.4 billion
- Re-exports: Increased by $718 million (17.4 percent) to $4.8 billion
- U.S. general imports: Increased by $16.9 billion (13.3 percent) to $144.6 billion
The value of U.S. domestic exports of textile and apparel products increased by $2.7 billion (18.5 percent) to $17.4 billion from 2020 to 2021. Within the textiles and apparel sector, exports in all digests grew, except for carpets and rugs, which fell slightly, continuing a long-term downward trend as low-cost production of these products in foreign facilities continued to compete with U.S. production. The growth in exports was driven by an increase in global consumer demand for downstream textile products such as technical textiles and home textiles. Exports of apparel, fibers and yarns, miscellaneous textile products, fabric, and home furnishings all increased from 2020 to 2021, with growth rates ranging from 10.9 percent to 31.2 percent (figure TX.1). Moreover, exports of miscellaneous textile products, home furnishings, and apparel returned to 2019 pre-pandemic exports levels. Further, exports to the United States’ largest trading partners, Mexico and Canada, not only returned to 2019 levels but actually increased.
U.S. general imports of textiles and apparel increased by $16.9 billion (13.3 percent) to $144.6 billion in 2021. Imports of products within all digests in the textiles and apparel sector grew except miscellaneous textile products. Imports of apparel, home furnishings, fabrics, carpets and rugs, and fibers and yarns grew by double-digit rates in 2021 as the U.S. industry began to recover from the initial COVID-19 pandemic-related slowdown and U.S. consumer spending increased from 2020 levels. The largest digest group, apparel, which accounted for over 70 percent of all textile and apparel imports in 2021, saw the largest increase by value, $21.8 billion (27.3 percent), followed by home furnishings and fabrics (increases of $3.8 billion and $1.2 billion, respectively).
U.S. Domestic Exports
U.S. exports of textiles and apparel increased by $2.7 billion (18.5 percent) to $17.4 billion in 2021. Apparel, fibers and yarns, miscellaneous textile products, and fabrics led the growth in U.S exports in this sector. The two largest exported product groups were fabrics ($5.5 billion) and fibers and yarns ($4.0 billion), together accounting for over one-half of all U.S. textile and apparel exports. The largest destination markets for U.S. textiles and apparel were Mexico, Canada, and Honduras, which accounted for 57.2 percent of all U.S. exports in 2021. The growth in U.S. exports was driven by downstream demand from apparel and textile product consumers that, in turn, spurred demand for U.S. fibers, yarns, and fabrics from producers in regional trade partner countries.
U.S. exports of apparel saw the largest shift by value, increasing $780 million (31.2 percent) to $3.3 billion. A little over 50 percent of U.S. exports of apparel in 2021 went to Canada and Mexico as supply chain disruptions incentivized local and regional sourcing to avoid long lead times. The United States exports a wide range of apparel with the largest single product being knitted or crocheted parts of garments or of clothing accessories, which rose by $204 million to $399 million in 2021.
U.S. exports of fibers and yarns saw the second-largest increase of $773 million (23.8 percent) to $4.0 billion in 2021. Certain cotton and synthetic yarns accounted for five of the six-largest exported fibers and yarns products, the largest recipients of which were Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) countries, including Honduras, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, and Guatemala. CAFTA-DR rules of origin stipulate that most inputs used in apparel and other finished textiles traded under the agreement be produced in the member countries. The growth in U.S. exports of upstream textile products such as fiber, yarn, and fabric was driven by rising consumer spending for downstream textile products. U.S. exports also benefited from public and private efforts to support the textiles supply chain within the Western Hemisphere, specifically between the United States and the Northern Triangle region of Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. For example, in 2021, at least seven U.S. companies announced investments in U.S.- and CAFTA-member textile manufacturing facilities in an effort to increase textiles trade within the region.
Exports of miscellaneous textile products increased by $544 million (18.7 percent) to $3.5 billion in 2021. Worn clothing and other worn articles accounted for the largest share (23.5 percent) of all miscellaneous textile exports, and exports of these products grew by 35.3 percent ($213 million) between 2020 and 2021. The United States is the largest global exporter of worn clothing, and the increase in exports is tied to the value of apparel sales. That is, as U.S. consumers purchased more clothing in 2021, people disposed of more clothing as well, resulting in an increase in worn clothing exports. The second-most exported miscellaneous textile product group included N95 respirators and other textile face masks. While exports of these goods climbed 40.0 percent between 2019 and 2020, exports fell by 1.4 percent in 2021 as most personal protective equipment (PPE) made in the United States was used domestically.
Fabric exports also grew in 2021, increasing by $534 million (10.9 percent) to $5.5 billion. Fabrics made up the largest share of U.S. exports of textiles and apparel products, accounting for 31.1 percent, and within the fabrics digest, nonwoven fabrics made up the largest category of exported products. These fabrics are critical inputs to produce many PPE products, including N95 respirators, surgical masks, and other medical PPE. Mexico and Canada were the largest destination markets for U.S. exports of fabric, valued at $2.6 billion and $1.0 billion, respectively.
Re-exports made up 21.8 percent ($4.8 billion) of total U.S. textile and apparel product exports in 2021. Within the apparel digest, re-exports accounted for a larger share, 46.8 percent, of total apparel exports in 2021, slightly lower than 48.9 percent in 2020. The share of apparel re-exports is larger than other textile re-exports as many U.S. apparel brands and retailers use free trade zones (FTZs) as distribution hubs for their products.
U.S. General Imports
U.S. general imports of textiles and apparel increased by $16.9 billion (13.3 percent) to $144.6 billion in 2021. Imports of products under all digests within the textiles and apparel sector grew except miscellaneous textile products. Imports of apparel, home furnishings, fabrics, carpets and rugs, and fibers and yarns all grew by double-digit rates in 2021, as U.S. consumer spending rose and companies worked to sell excess inventories from 2020 to meet increased demand. The largest digest group, apparel, which accounted for 70.2 percent of all textile and apparel imports, saw the largest increase of $21.8 billion (27.3 percent). Apparel imports increased to above pre-pandemic levels, rising from $92.6 billion in 2019 to $101.5 billion in 2021, reflecting increased consumer demand as many people returned to pre-pandemic activities after COVID-19 vaccines became available. Imports of home furnishings ($15.4 billion) and fabrics ($8.1 billion) also grew by 33.0 and 17.9 percent, respectively, as consumers continued to prioritize spending on household goods in 2021.
U.S. imports of textiles and apparel from China, the largest U.S. supplier of textiles and apparel in 2021, decreased by $4.8 billion (9.5 percent) to $45.4 billion. China accounted for a little less than one-third of all U.S. imports and was the largest U.S. supplier of products within each digest except carpet and rugs. Due to the decline in U.S. imports from China, China’s share of total U.S. imports fell from 39.3 percent to 31.4 percent, which was slightly below China’s 2019 share of 33.7 percent. This decline was driven by the steep drop in U.S. imports of face masks from China, which fell by at least $13.1 billion (74.0 percent) in 2021 to $4.6 billion as U.S. demand was primarily met with domestic supply. In contrast, U.S. imports of apparel from China increased by $4.7 billion (19.9 percent) in 2021.
Companies identified multiple challenges with respect to sourcing textiles and apparel from China in 2021. For example, imports from China continued to incur additional duties under section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, making the cost of Chinese goods relatively more expensive compared to goods of other countries. In addition, goods produced in the Xinjiang region of China, where 20 percent of the world’s cotton is grown, were banned from U.S. importation under the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. Finally, some apparel retailers sourcing from China indicated that they were looking to diversify their sourcing portfolio to include other Asian countries, citing rising costs of production in China. However, this transition has been slow due to limited manufacturing capacity in other countries and U.S. retailers’ established supply chains with Chinese suppliers.
Vietnam was the second-largest U.S. supplier of textiles and apparel in 2021, making up 11.1 percent of all U.S. imports. Apparel accounted for most U.S. imports of textiles and apparel from Vietnam (93.1 percent), and imports increased by $1.7 billion (12.7 percent) in 2021 to $14.9 billion. Vietnam is a large sourcing hub for many U.S. apparel importers, but multiple factors mitigated larger growth of U.S. apparel imports from Vietnam in 2021. For example, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) initiated an investigation into Vietnam’s acts, policies, and practices related to the valuation of its currency. While no additional duties were placed on imports from Vietnam as a result of this investigation, firms expressed concerns over Vietnam’s sourcing costs. In addition to sourcing costs, Vietnam experienced challenges related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Many apparel manufacturers shut down due to public safety concerns after cases increased from May to September of 2021, resulting in labor shortages as workers left big cities during the slowdown. Despite these challenges, Vietnam continues to be an attractive apparel supplier to the United States due to its diversified product offerings, strong regional value chain, and comparatively high worker productivity rates.
India was the third-largest supplier of textiles and apparel to the U.S. market in 2021, with imports increasing by $3.4 billion (44.9 percent) to $11.1 billion. About 40 percent ($4.5 billion) of U.S. imports from India were apparel and another 40 percent ($4.7 billion) were composed of home furnishings and carpets and rugs. India is a major producer of home textiles. The country ranked as the second-largest U.S. supplier of home furnishings and fabric, and the largest supplier of carpets and rugs. U.S. demand for home furnishings, such as bedding, grew in 2021 as consumers maintained enthusiasm for purchasing home textiles that began during the initial phases of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
The three next-largest U.S. suppliers of textiles and apparel—Bangladesh, Mexico, and Malaysia—all saw increased U.S. import shares in 2021, supplying 5.2 percent, 4.3 percent, and 4.1 percent of total U.S. sector imports, respectively. Nearly all imports (95.3 percent) from Bangladesh were apparel, valued at $7.2 billion in 2021, an increase of 35.7 percent. Mexico supplied primarily apparel, miscellaneous textile products, and home furnishings in 2021. U.S. imports from Mexico increased by nearly 20 percent to $6.3 billion, and its share of total U.S. imports rose slightly from 4.1 percent to 4.3 percent. U.S. imports of apparel from Malaysia also grew in 2021, increasing from $2.9 billion in 2020 to $5.9 billion in 2021. This shift was driven by an increase in total U.S. imports of medical gloves, which grew 191.2 percent from $2.6 billion to $7.6 billion during 2020–21, and of which Malaysia accounted for over one-half of total U.S. imports ($4.3 billion). Disposable gloves were categorized as critical PPE in the defense against COVID-19 and have been in high global demand since the beginning of the pandemic.
 The Textiles and Apparel sector consists of six product digests. Each USITC sector digest encompasses various 8-digit subheadings in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS). For a complete list of HTS subheadings classified in a particular sector or digest, see data table.
 Except when otherwise noted, export data used in this section are for domestic exports. For more information on trade terminology, please refer to USITC, “Special Topic: Trade Metrics,” Shifts in U.S. Merchandise Trade, 2014, June 2015; USITC DataWeb/Census, digests TX001-006, accessed February 15, 2022.
 Guirguis, “Carpet Mills in the US,” September 2021, 15, 30.
 Lang, “Textile Mills in the US,” October 2021, 19–20.
 Exports of fabrics, fibers and yarns, and carpets and rugs did not return to 2019 pre-pandemic levels. For example, U.S. domestic exports of fibers and yarns increased by $773 million (23.8 percent) to $4.0 billion in 2021, but exports were still 7.8 percent lower than exports in 2019, which totaled $4.4 billion.
 USITC DataWeb/Census, digests TX001–006, accessed February 15, 2022.
 Friedman, “Retail Imports to Show,” December 9, 2021; USDOC, BEA, “Personal Consumption Expenditures,” January 27, 2022, table 2.3.1.
 USITC DataWeb/Census, digests TX001–006, accessed February 15, 2022.
 In particular, technical textiles and home furnishings experienced increased demand for U.S. textile inputs. Lang, “Textile Mills in the US,” October 2021, 19–21.
 USITC DataWeb/Census, digest TX005, accessed February 15, 2022.
 Schwartz, “Supply Chain Woes,” January 5, 2022; Schwartz, “Made in the U.S.A.,” November 29, 2021.
 USITC DataWeb/Census, digest TX001, accessed February 15, 2022.
 These cotton and synthetic yarn products are classified under HTS subheadings 5509.53.00, 5205.12.20, 5205.12.10, 5205.13.20, and 5509.92.00. The single largest exported fibers and yarns single product was cellulose acetate filament tow, accounting for 13.4 percent of the digest. The Netherlands, Indonesia, and Belgium were the largest destination markets for U.S. exports of these products (HTS subheading 5502.10.00).
 USDOC, OTEXA, “Summary of the U.S.-Dominican Republic-Central America,” accessed January 20, 2022.
 The average growth rate of personal consumption expenditures on clothing and footwear was 17.7 percent in 2021. USTR, “USTR Roundtable Highlights,” October 29, 2021; USDOC, BEA, “Personal Consumption Expenditures,” January 27, 2022, table 2.3.1.
 Ellis, “Vice President Kamala Harris Announces,” December 13, 2021.
 USITC DataWeb/Census, digest TX006, accessed February 15, 2022.
 USITC DataWeb/Census, HTS subheading 6309.00.00, accessed February 14, 2022.
 IHS Markit, Global Trade Atlas, HS 6309.00, accessed January 5, 2022.
 Lu, “What Affects the Patterns,” May 26, 2021; Friedman, “US Apparel Imports Ballooned,” July 6, 2021.
 HTS subheading 6307.90.98 also includes non-PPE products such as national flags.
 In addition, certain PPE including N95 masks and surgical masks were designated as scarce critical medical resources and were allocated for domestic use until July 1, 2021, in order to ensure domestic needs were met during the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in fewer exported masks overall. The United States’ largest export destination for textile N95 respirators was Australia and the largest export destination for other textile face masks was Mexico in 2021. 85 FR 20195, April 20, 2020; The White House, “Memorandum on Allocating Certain Scarce,” April 3, 2020; Mason and Baertlein, “U.S. to Distribute 400 Million,” January 19, 2022; DHS, FEMA, “Information Update about the Export Allocation Rule,” July 1, 2021; USITC DataWeb/Census, HTS subheading 6307.90.98 and HTS statistical reporting numbers 6307.90.9845 and 6307.90.9860, accessed February 14, 2022.
 Kalil, “‘It’s a Great Time to Be in Nonwovens,’” August 6, 2021; USITC, COVID‑19 Related Goods, December 2020, 85.
 USITC DataWeb/Census, digests TX001-006, accessed February 15, 2022.
 For additional information on FTZs, see USITC, “Special Topic: Trade Metrics,” Shifts in U.S. Merchandise Trade, 2014, June 2015.
 USITC DataWeb/Census, digests TX001-006, accessed February 15, 2022.
 U.S. imports of miscellaneous textile products fell 49.6 percent in 2021 after increasing 160.3 percent in 2020. Despite this decline, imports in 2021 were still 31.1 percent greater than imports of these goods in 2019. The drop in imports in 2021 was roughly $11.7 billion, driven primarily by the decline in U.S. imports of facemasks under HTS subheading 6307.90.98.
 Scott, “Gap Inc. CEO Predicts Apparel Rebound,” March 4, 2021; Kleinhenz, “Monthly Economic Review January 2022,” January 5, 2022; USDOC, BEA, “Personal Consumption Expenditures,” January 27, 2022, table 2.3.1.
 USITC DataWeb/Census, digest TX005, accessed February 15, 2022.
 McKinsey, “The State of Fashion 2022,” December 1, 2021, 10.
 Marks, “Home Textiles Shopping Behavior,” December 7, 2021; USITC DataWeb/Census, digest TX004, accessed February 15, 2022.
 USITC DataWeb/Census, HTS subheading 6307.90.98, accessed February 16, 2022. Evstatieva, “U.S. Companies Shifted To Make,” June 25, 2021.
 Zumbrun, “U.S. Tariffs Drive Drop in Chinese Imports,” May 12, 2021.
 Brunnstrom and Grant, “Biden Signs Bill Banning Goods,” December 23, 2021; Ellis, “Vice President Kamala Harris Announces,” December 13, 2021; Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act of 2021, Public Law No. 117-78, 135 Stat. 1525.
 Lu, 2021 Fashion Industry Benchmarking Study, July 2021, 11, 17–19.
 Lu, 2021 Fashion Industry Benchmarking Study, July 2021, 28–30; Sundar, “As New Trade Rep. Comes Onboard,” March 19, 2021.
 On January 22, 2021, the USTR determined that Vietnam participated in excessive foreign exchange market interventions and other related actions, which are actionable under Section 301. However, In July the USTR determined that no action under the Section 301 was warranted at that time after an agreement was reached with Vietnam. USTR, USTR Releases Findings in Section 301 Investigation, January 15, 2021; 80 FR 40675, July 28, 2020.
 Lu, 2021 Fashion Industry Benchmarking Study, July 2021, 33–34.
 Thomas, “Covid Restrictions Force Some Retailers,” September 16, 2021; Chua, “Vietnam’s Worker Exodus,” October 12, 2021; Chua, “Vietnam’s Biggest City,” September 30, 2021.
 Saini, “Vietnam Leapfrogs Bangladesh,” August 2, 2021.
 Fibre2Fashion.com, “China Plus One: A Trade and Investment Story,” December 2021.
 Friedrick, “Retailing Rebound Fuels,” December 23, 2021.
 USITC DataWeb/Census, HTS subheading 4015.19.05, accessed January 21, 2022.
 USITC, COVID‑19 Related Goods, December 2020, 125–28.
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