22 February 2010
US apparel import prices heavily fell in 2009, partly due to a sharp reduction in Chinese prices, in categories where US quotas have been lifted. India also reduced its prices in a large number of categories while Indonesia was confronted with a stronger domestic currency, as reflected by our comparative tables per major origins and categories.
US apparel import prices heavily fell in 2009, in line with the depression in retail sales starting from 2008 and the elimination of quotas on Chinese shipments, effective from January 1st.
More important, the price decrease mostly occurred in man-made fiber categories, partly thanks to a sharp drop in polyester prices in China.
Average unit price of US cotton apparel imports only declined 3.28% compared with a fall of 7.81% for man-made fiber apparel prices.
More strikingly, unit prices of apparel from China rose 3.82% in cotton categories while they fell 14.2% in man-made fiber categories.
In most sensitive categories, unit prices of Chinese apparel heavily declined whatever the fiber being used, as quotas were lifted.
In 338 and 339 for instance, unit prices of Chinese cotton knit shirts respectively lost 25% and 18% from a year earlier.
They declined 20% in 347/348 (cotton trousers).
This is however from very high levels and Chinese prices remained above average in most cotton apparel categories.
In man-made fiber categories by contrast, unit prices of apparel imports from China fell below average, except in a few categories.
Main rivals in MMF categories could not follow China in such a price cut.
Indonesian suppliers for instance were confronted with a rise in their domestic currency against the US dollar.
Indonesian apparel prices finally fell only 1.5% over the full year, by contrast with the 10% decrease in Indian prices, thanks to a weaker rupee from a year earlier.
Bangladesh raised its prices, but from much lower levels, while Pakistani suppliers partly retained profits withdrawn from a lower domestic currency.
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