Recent trade data on clothing, Chapters 61 and 62 HS code, indicate that Chinese clothing sales are recovering faster than in any other region, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). However, the pace of market demand recovery is unknown and the effect of remote working is not understood. In April and May, world imports of clothing declined sharply, with US imports down 55% from last year for May. Imports in the EU and the UK were down more than 40%, while at the same time Japan declined by 30%.
In all the major markets, though not simultaneously, the fall in textile and clothing exports was noted. Shipments from Pakistan, Turkey and the European Union dropped by 60 percent respectively, while exports from Bangladesh and India declined by 85 per cent and 90 percent respectively. The USDA study said that exports of textiles and garments in Vietnam dropped by approximately 30%.
The results of COVID-19 have both influenced demand and supply. Lockdowns have slowed consumption investment and have prevented exporting cotton. The operating rates of spinning mills in China, India, Pakistan and the USA decreased by more than 90%. Like export data, the operational rate in Vietnam has decreased by only 30%. There has also been an uneven improvement in the spinning market – the COVID-19 struck China first and coincided with the Chinese New Year. The recovery in China is quicker than in many countries and operating rates will return in three- to four months to almost pre-COVID-19 stages. The pace of market demand recovery is unclear, however as recent imports of apparel contain late demand, as customers made transactions which have initially been postponed.