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Record number of T-shirts entering Netherlands

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Staff Writer | November 6, 2018
During the first eight months of 2018, the Netherlands imported 213 million T-shirts, singlets and other vests of cotton.
T-shirts Netherlands
Europe   Hardly any cotton vests are manufactured domestically
This is the largest quantity ever recorded and approximately 2.5 times more than in 1998.

The total value of clothing imports between January and August amounted to 7.6 billion euros, 8 percent more than in the same period one year previously. This is reported by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) on the basis of new research into the international clothing trade.

Slightly more than half of all imports of cotton singlets and other vests is destined for the Dutch market. The remainder is re-exported to other countries.

Hardly any cotton vests are manufactured domestically. During the first eight months of 2018, around 110 million vests were available for domestic use (by both households and companies), which is just under the record level in 2006. The quantity has more than doubled over the past two decades.

In 2017, a total of 129 million vests entered the Dutch market; on average, nearly 8 per inhabitant. This was still 4 for every Dutch inhabitant in 1998.

Last year, the Netherlands received 91 million vests directly from Bangladesh, which is therefore the main supplier. Other large producers of vests are China (supplied 21 million pieces), India and Turkey (both supplied 17 million pieces).

The average import price per vest exceeds 3 euros in 2018. With an import price of around 2 euros, vests manufactured in Bangladesh are considerably cheaper. Prices of vests from China (approx. 2.50 euros) are also lower than average, while vests from India were average-priced (around 5 euros) and those from Turkey more expensive than average (around 5 euros).

Vests from Bangladesh have increased by around 60 eurocents in price over the past two decades, whereas this year’s average import price is 20 eurocents higher relative to 1998.

Imports of other clothing items are also up this year: 7.6 billion euros in the first eight months, i.e. 8 percent up on the previous year. Over half of it is sent directly from Asia to the Netherlands.

In 2017, the Netherlands imported 1.9 billion euros worth of clothing in total from China, versus 1.0 billion euros from Bangladesh. Imports of vests and trousers from Bangladesh were higher than from China.

Other garments, such as sweaters, dresses, shirts, costumes and coats, on the other hand, were more likely to arrive from China. Turkey ranks third as non-EU clothing supplier (0.6 billion euros), followed by India and Vietnam. Import values from China and Bangladesh have increased more than sixfold over the past twenty years. Imports from Vietnam have more than quadrupled, while those from Turkey and India have more or less doubled.

Aside from imports directly coming from Asia, clothing enters the Netherlands via other EU countries. Part of this clothing has been manufactured in Asia as well; CBS does not have any figures on this ‘indirect’ import from Asia.