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Message from the USFIA Chairman for 2014

January 7, 2014

Dear USFIA Members, Associate Members, & International Affiliates, 

On behalf of the United States Fashion Industry Association leadership and staff, I’d like to wish our members and friends a Happy New Year. 

United States Fashion Industry Association. I thought it would take some time to get used to the new name and brand, but in reality, they’re such a natural fit for the association and our work as we approach our 25th anniversary year. We officially made the change two months ago, and based on the overwhelmingly positive feedback we’ve received since then, it’s clear it was the right decision. 

These days, we are not merely importers—as global brands, we are also global traders. 

Long gone are the years of quota; however, we still face a multitude of trade barriers such as Rules of Origin for free and preferential trade, the non-harmonization of product safety and labeling requirements, and non-transparent rules in certain global markets, to name a few. As such, while our name and brand have changed, our mission has not. We remain dedicated to the removal of barriers that impede the free movement of textile and apparel products to the United States and international markets. Our mission is embodied by five values that have served us well over the last 25 years and, I expect, will continue to serve us over the next 25 years: integrity, substance, focus, collaboration, and foresight. 

Our 25th anniversary year is already off to a running start, and to stay focused on our mission, we’ll keep these five values in mind with everything we plan to do this year. 

Integrity. USFIA will work on a number of critical policy priorities this year, including the completion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement and ensuring that the textile and apparel rules work for our industry, renewal of the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the Nicaragua Tariff Preference Level (TPL) in CAFTA-DR, and compliance in Bangladesh and elsewhere around the world, to name a few. I know USFIA will work on these issues with integrity—meaning that USFIA will unfailingly listen to, support, and defend its members, while working closely with government partners to find creative solutions to these challenges.   

Substance. USFIA maintains and articulates a deep understanding of the industry and the challenges most important to members—the sourcing and compliance executives, like me, who make tough decisions every day on how to address these challenges. In addition to the usual timely communications and events, USFIA is planning a busy schedule of events around the globe as well as more webinars hosted by staff, counsel, and member organizations so you always have access to the substantive information to help you and your company do better business. The events will kick off with a webinar titled Trade Policy Outlook for 2014 on January 23rd. (And you can always access prior communications, seminar recaps, and webinar recordings on the recently revampedwww.usfashionindustry.com.) 

Focus. USFIA keeps a laser focus on our mission, which allows us to be agile and quickly seize upon opportunities to move the needle. Throughout our 25th anniversary year, we’ll be amplifying our message through advocacy activities in Washington and around the world and other special events to generate more focus on the need to remove barriers to textile and apparel trade. In addition, our Board and Trade Policy, Customs, and Membership Committees will plan our advocacy and association activities for the year, and we’ll be launching a new Ethical Sourcing Committee to continue our strong track record of success on compliance and corporate social responsibility issues. If you’re interested in getting involved in any of these committees, let the staff know. 

Collaboration. USFIA prides itself on the fact that our members collaborate to share best practices and amplify the industry’s voice on critical issues, putting aside marketplace competition to work together toward common goals. In the spirit of collaboration, USFIA will be launching some exciting partnerships and programs, as well as a conflict minerals resource center and training program with Source Intelligence and other apparel and retail associations. Stay tuned for more details! 

Foresight. USFIA keeps me and my staff informed not only about the regulatory challenges today, but also the regulatory challenges of tomorrow—and I know that over the coming months and years, the leadership and staff will be working tirelessly to keep you informed, too. From the new, responsive mobile website allowing you to access information on-the-go, to the active social media accounts, to the busy schedule of events, you’ll never be out of the loop. 

If you’ve been looking for the right time to get more involved in the United States Fashion Industry Association, the time is now. It’s going to be a busy, exciting year, and I look forward to working with all of you more closely to achieve our mission. 

Sincerely,

Maureen Gray

Vice President of International Trade, Ralph Lauren Corporation

Chair, United States Fashion Industry Association Board of Directors

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