Apparel shipments to the U.S. from Vietnam are growing rapidly — they’re up 44.5 percent through the year ended in April — and importers are growing concerned about the rapid consumption of that country’s quotas this year. The U.S. recently cut back Vietnam’s quota limits by 12 million units after an investigation revealed that garments had been shipped to the U.S. bearing phony Made in Vietnam labels that had actually been manufactured elsewhere.

This story first appeared in the July 6, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Vietnam has not yet joined the World Trade Organization, which means its exports of textiles and apparel most likely will continue be limited by quotas next year, if the bilateral U.S.-Vietnam textile deal is extended at the end of 2004, as is expected. Some importers think it could turn into a fringe benefit at the end of this year. Typically, when faced with the possibility of an embargo at the end of a year, importers seek to carry forward some of the country’s category from the coming year to keep goods flowing. Since the 147 WTO nations will have no quotas in 2005, the Bush administration already has ruled no carry forward will be allowed at the end of this year. Importers are lobbying to allow Vietnam to use carry forward this year.

Here, a look at fill rates in Vietnam’s 10 highest-volume categories:

PRODUCT
QUOTA LIMIT
USAGE TO DATE
Cotton knit shirts and blouses
14.4 million dozen
72.6 percent
Cotton and man-made fiber swimwear
540,740 kilograms
68.5 percent
Cotton and man-made fiber skirts
591,089 dozen
54.2 percent
Cotton trousers
7.3 million dozen
52.4 percent
Combed cotton yarn
545,895 kilograms
49.4 percent
Man-made fiber trousers and shorts
2.1 million dozen
43.9 percent
Sewing thread and yarns for retail sale
154,494 kilograms
43.6 percent
Women’s cotton and man-made fiber woven shirts and blouses
833,323 dozen
39.5 percent
Men’s cotton and man-made fiber woven shirts and blouses
2.0 million dozen
36.1 percent
Cotton and man-made fiber underwear
1.9 million dozen
35.3 percent
SOURCE: U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION TEXTILE STATUS REPORT.