Dear USFIA Members, Affiliates, & Friends:
Happy New Year!
As we start a new decade, there is no doubt that it is more important than ever for retailers, brands and our suppliers to come together. We are in very uncertain times – and looking at the year ahead we anticipate there will be many challenges to manage the industry’s response to trade policy and to expand our commitment to greater compliance, expanded sustainability and smart sourcing.
Our goal for 2020 is to do what we can to make the world a better place for our customers, our colleagues and our suppliers.
There are a few issues that I think we all need to focus on:
Although there has been progress in the trade talks with China, American brands and retailers are dealing with additional duties on the vast majority of our products. Even with reductions in the tariffs, the fact is that American consumers will be forced to pay higher prices. In addition there are other trade disputes that are raising prices on imports from the European Union, tariffs on steel and aluminum imports and a variety of challenges to the GSP program. And while the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement is a positive development, it still will mean changes to our supply chains. This year USFIA will focus on providing members with the latest trade intelligence, resources, and solutions to manage our business.
Of course there are other concerns than trade policy, and I want to highlight three important issues. As you know, one of the top news stories in the last few months has been the forced labor situation in China related to the treatment of the Uighur population in the Xinjiang province. CBP has already issued a withhold release order on one apparel manufacturing location. The industry has concerns since the however is the Xinjiang region produces 84% of the cotton grown in China. This is an important issue for USFIA and we are working with brands and retailers to develop an industry-wide response.
We also are concerned about the situation in Bangladesh. The High Court has issued a “stay” of Nirapon’s operations for 6 months. The Accord has also been banned. The significant progress made in factory safety over the last 5 1/2 years by these organizations could be in danger unless we can maintain the commitment of brands and retailers and the Bangladesh industry to maintain factory safety monitoring.
And on a positive note, we want to highlight the 2019 Business Roundtable Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation. Signed by 181 CEOs, the Statement has five key points that resonate with Macy’s and reflect the importance of ESG for fashion brands and retailers. They are:
- Delivering value to our customers. We will further the tradition of American companies leading the way in meeting or exceeding customer expectations.
- Investing in our employees. This starts with compensating them fairly and providing important benefits. It also includes supporting them through training and education that help develop new skills for a rapidly changing world. We foster diversity and inclusion, dignity and respect.
- Dealing fairly and ethically with our suppliers. We are dedicated to serving as good partners to the other companies, large and small, that help us meet our missions.
- Supporting communities in which we work. We respect people in our communities and protect the environment by embracing sustainable practices across our businesses.
- Generating long-term value for shareholders, who provide the capital that allows companies to invest, grow and innovate. We are committed to transparency and effective engagement with shareholders.
During 2020 USFIA will be scheduling more activities with members to encourage higher engagement and commitments to these principles and to sustainability throughout our business. I encourage all USFIA members to stay involved and participate in the wide range of activities. As we tackle the challenges ahead, we have an opportunity to think creatively about our supply chains, our products, our groundbreaking sustainability initiatives, and our stores, to become even better brands and retailers for America and for the world. We all need to be prepared for the challenges that will be coming our way in the New Year.
Chairman of the United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA)
Senior Director of Customs & Social Compliance for Macy's Merchandising Group