Japan’s Apparel Imports Show Remarkable Shift Toward ASEAN

According to The Japan Textiles Importers Association report on the nation’s imports of apparel, based on Ministry of Finance trade statistics, imports during January-June 2018 increased by 4.0% in quantity and 3.5% in value year-on-year to 1,945.92 million units worth 1,429.79 billion yen. (provisional)

While imports from China, which accounted for about 60% of the total apparel imports, decreased both in volume and value, those from ASEAN headed upward.

Although imports during January-June 2017 decreased both in volume (down 2.8%) and value (down 1.3%), the first-half 2018 import volume and value posted increases. The value decreased for China and Malaysia, but increased for other countries and regions. Especially, ASEAN made remarkable advancements.

First-half apparel imports from China decreased by 1.4% in volume and 1.9% in value to 1,228.44 million units worth 854.26 billion yen. While the 2017 import volume was 1.4% larger than 2016 imports, imports turned to a decrease in 2018. Imports increased for woven garments, but decreased for knitwear. The import value also decreased by 3.3% in 2017.

As the environment of the Japanese apparel market continues to remain severe, orders are increasingly being made nearer the demand season. QR supply from China continues to be necessary, but the fact that Chinese factories are suspending their production due to stricter environmental restrictions is considered to be reducing Japanese imports from China. China’s share in Japanese apparel imports was 59.7% in value (61.1% in the year before) and 63.1% in volume (66.6%).

While taking trends in the Japanese domestic market and situation in China into consideration, Japanese companies continue to shift to production in ASEAN. First-half 2018 apparel imports from ASEAN posted double-digit growths with the volume growing by 16.0% to 524.61 million units and the value rising by 13.8% to 384.26 billion yen. Both woven garments and knitwear posted double-digit growths.

Apparel imports sharply increased from Vietnam, Bangladesh and Cambodia. Imports from Vietnam increased by 21.4% and 17.9% respectively to 251.94 million units valued at 194.14 billion yen. Imports from Bangladesh grew by 19.1% and 17.4% respectively to 126.79 million units worth 59.05 billion yen, along with those from Cambodia by 16.9% and 14.6% respectively to 83.33 million units valued at 50.16 billion yen.

Imports also increased from Indonesia, Myanmar and Thailand, and this resulted in raising ASEAN’s share to 26.9% in value (25.4% in the year before) and 27% in volume (24.2%).

Among ASEAN suppliers, imports from Malaysia decreased by 16.3% in volume to 8.59 million units and by 0.5% in value to 7.73 billion yen.