• USFIA Joins Letter to USTR on AGOA

    On March 25th, the United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA) joined other industry associations in sending a letter to Florie Liser, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa, following up on our recent industry roundtable on the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA). The letter provides the results of the member industry survey about additional elements or benefits the U.S. could provide to incentivize additional investment in AGOA countries, and the impact if AGOA is not renewed in a timely manner and for a long term. The letter is available here.

  • USFIA Joins U.S. & African Companies in Call for Immediate Renewal of AGOA

    On August 13th, the United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA) joined 6 other fashion and retail associations in the United States and Africa in releasing a statement calling for immediate renewal of the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA). In the statement, the groups also call for long-term renewal of at least 15 years, as well as long-term renewal of the third-country fabric provision and application of the provision to all AGOA beneficiaries. The statement will be posted on all organizations' websites and distributed to the media, as well. Following the recent U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C., AGOA continues to be a top priority for USFIA and many of our members and we will remain engaged on the issue. The full statement is available here and our press release is available here.

  • USFIA Publishes Op-Ed on AGOA in Apparel Magazine

    On July 29, 2014, USFIA President Julia K. Hughes published an op-ed in Apparel Magazine on the need to renew the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA) immediately and for the long term. An excerpt:

    At a time when Congress seemingly can't agree on anything, AGOA is a non-controversial program with nearly universal support as one that's good for business in the U.S. and good for economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa. Unfortunately the clock has been ticking for the program, which is scheduled to expire on Sept. 30, 2015, but Rep. Nunes' statement and the scheduling of the long-awaited hearings are signs it finally could be renewed.

    But while there's still one year left, time has all but run out before the fashion industry will slow down orders in advance of the scheduled expiration, so let's hope it's renewed quickly.

    "The only way we can continue to source in sub-Saharan Africa is if the duty-free status is maintained," explains the head of international trade and customs at one of the United States Fashion Industry Association's (USFIA) member companies, a small importer and manufacturer of niche women's and children's apparel, who shared the company's story of sourcing in AGOA and the problems that will arise if the act is not renewed soon.

    Currently, 40 sub-Saharan African countries are eligible for the program, which has the purpose of facilitating the region's economic growth and integration through two-way, duty-free trade with the U.S.

    The program includes a provision called the third-country fabric benefit, which allows apparel producers in most beneficiaries to use third-country fabric (or, fabric from any other country in the world) and still get duty-free treatment in the United States. According to the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC), in 2013, 98.48 percent of apparel imported into the U.S.from AGOA-eligible countries was duty free. This is a significant savings for companies sourcing in a region that would otherwise be cost-prohibitive, while also providing jobs and economic opportunities in the region.

    But many companies have already taken action to either reevaluate their sourcing plans, or even pull out from the region because they simply can't afford to do business there without the duty savings, which are still uncertain, at best.

    The entire op-ed is availabe on the Apparel Magazine website.

  • USFIA Urges House to Quickly Approve AGOA Renewal

    On May 18th, the United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA) joined a coalition statementurging quick, long-term renewal of the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA). The signatories included U.S. fashion and retail advocacy groups as well as the African Cotton & Textile Industries Federation (ACTIF). As you know, the Senate passed AGOA renewal, and the House is expected to consider it, soon. The statement is available here, and was sent to press, too.

  • WWD: Industry Supports House-Passed Bill to Enhance AGOA Program

    By Kristi Ellis

    “A large part of the bill focuses on increased capacity building opportunities and I think that is really important,” said Julia Hughes, president at the U.S. Fashion Industry Association. “We think it’s also really important to enhance policies to encourage more technical assistance, especially for more training for businesses in eligible countries on how to do business with American companies.”

    Hughes said one reason the AGOA trade program and benefits appear to be underutilized is because many standards and requirements are in place that can be difficult to navigate.

    Click here to read the entire article on the WWD website.

  • WWD: Obama Reinstates Madagascar Under African Growth & Opportunity Act

    By Kristi Ellis

    “Madagascar had become a relatively big supplier, but it was obviously hurt by not having duty-free benefits,” said Julia Hughes, president of the U.S. Fashion Industry Association. “We are [pleased] by today’s action and look forward to speedy implementation of the third-country fabric benefits as well as information from Madagascar that verifies they have the appropriate enforcement mechanism in place.”

    Click here to read the entire article on the WWD website.