China’s textile and apparel exports reached USD 65.1 billion in the first quarter of this year, up 43.8 percent from the same period in 2020 and 15.6 percent from the same period in 2019, according to China Customs Statistics Express. This shows that the competitive advantage of China’s textile and apparel industry chain and supply chain provides a strong support for the sustained and stable operation of foreign trade.
Apparel export presents four main characteristics:
Apparel exports are still growing rapidly compared with the same period in 2019
Affected by the pandemic, China’s export base in the first quarter of last year was low, so it is not surprising that China’s export in the first quarter of this year increased significantly. But even compared with the same period in 2019, China’s apparel exports are still growing. The main reason is that exports fell 21 percent in the same period last year, with a low base; the second is that the demand in major markets such as the United States has recovered rapidly; the third is that the production capacity of neighboring supplier countries is not fully recovered, which is driving the rapid growth of China’s export.
Apparel exports grew faster than textiles
Since March last year, China’s textile industry chain has recovered rapidly, and mask exports have boosted the textile export last year. Therefore, China’s textile export in the first quarter of this year increased by 40.3 percent year-on-year, lower than the growth of apparel export by 43.8 percent. Especially in March this year, China’s textile exports increased by only 8.4 percent in the same month, much lower than the 42.1 percent increase in apparel exports in the same month. Due to the decrease of international demand for pandemic prevention materials, China’s export of masks has shown a downward trend month by month. It is expected that China’s textile export in the second quarter will not have enough stamina, and there is a large possibility of year-on-year decline.
China’s market share in the U.S., Japan and other mainstream markets has increased
In the first two months of this year, U.S. apparel imports from the world only increased by 2.8 percent, but imports from China surged by 35.3 percent. China’s market share in the US rose by nearly 7 percentage points year-on-year to 29.8 percent. In the same period, Japan’s apparel imports from the world only increased by 8.4 percent, but imports from China increased by 22.3 percent. China’s market share in Japan was 55.2 percent, up by 6 percentage points year-on-year.
Apparel exports fell in March, the follow-up trend is not optimistic
In March this year, China’s apparel export reached USD 9.25 billion, up 42.1 percent compared with March 2020, but only 6.8 percent compared with March 2019, with a growth rate much lower than that of the previous two months. In the first two months of this year, retail apparel sales in the U.S. and Japan fell 11 percent and 18 percent, respectively. In January, apparel retail sales in the European Union fell by as much as 30 percent year-on-year, indicating that the global economic recovery remains fragile and demand in Europe and emerging economies is still depressed due to the outbreak of the pandemic.
It will be some time before global demand for apparel as an alternative consumer product returns to normal levels in previous years. As the capacity of textile and apparel manufacturing industry in developing economies is gradually restored, the substituting role of China’s apparel industry in global production in the previous period is weakening. Facing the export situation in the second quarter and even in the second half of the year, the industry needs to keep calm, recognize the situation, and can not be blindly optimistic.