Fashion Intel & Analysis

The U.S. Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Humans Rights, and Labor has released a fact sheet titled, “Advancing Human Rights: Best Practices and Opportunities to Partner with U.S. Embassies.” It gives several overall recommendations, lists specific best practices, and includes several opportunities for collaborating with U.S. embassies around the world in support of human rights. Among the overall recommendations, the fact sheet suggests that stakeholders “Take initiative: request meetings, share information, and invite officers to events on timely issues.”

With Congress returning to work this week, there are a number of major issues on the schedule.  Top priorities include pandemic relief legislation and action to fund the government and prevent a possible government shutdown on December 11th.  In addition, the Senate may consider the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.  Yesterday the New York Times criticized the lobbying efforts of major U.S.-based corporations and business groups to modify the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act to prevent serious supply chain disruption. Several other major media outlets are working on similar stories.

As you know, the legislation passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support. It bars imports of goods made “in whole or in part” in Xinjiang unless companies can provide documentation that the products were not made with forced labor. As currently written, the bill would establish a “guilty until proven innocent” blanket standard rather than a targeted approach to punish specific entities or individuals who are bad actors. This blanket standard could hurt producers and workers supporting ethical supply chains.

The NYT story includes the lobbying expenses from several major corporations and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, saying, “Lobbyists have fought to water down some of its provisions, arguing that while they strongly condemn forced labor and current atrocities in Xinjiang, the act’s ambitious requirements could wreak havoc on supply chains that are deeply embedded in China.”

In today’s Federal Register, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has posted two notices of public hearings on the Vietnam Section 301 investigations. The Notice of Public Hearing in Section 301 Investigation of Vietnam's Acts, Policies, and Practices Related to the Import and Use of Illegal Timber says the hearing will take place on December 28, 2020 at 9:30am virtually. The deadline to request to speak is December 10, and rebuttal comments are due by January 6, 2021. The Notice of Public Hearing in Section 301 Investigation of Vietnam's Acts, Policies, and Practices Related to Currency Valuation says the hearing will take place on December 29, 2020 at 9:30am virtually. This hearing also has a December 10th deadline for requests to speak, with rebuttals due by January 7, 2021.

The swift timeframe for both of these hearings suggests USTR may seek to take action against Vietnam before the Trump administration departs on January 20th.  The hearings are focused on the currency allegations and specifically say they will not consider the impact of a 301 action. 

In particular, USTR invites hearing testimony regarding:

  • Whether Vietnam's currency is undervalued, and the level of the undervaluation.
  • Vietnam's acts, policies, or practices that contribute to undervaluation of its currency.
  • The extent to which Vietnam's acts, policies, or practices contribute to the undervaluation.
  • Whether Vietnam's acts, policies and practices are unreasonable or discriminatory.
  • The nature and level of burden or restriction on U.S. commerce caused by the undervaluation of Vietnam's currency.
  • The determinations required under section 304 of the Trade Act, including what action, if any, should be taken.

USTR will offer a further opportunity for public comment in the event actions affecting specific products or services are considered in the investigation. Accordingly, the upcoming hearing will not involve testimony regarding specific products or services that might be affected by an action in the investigation.

 

It appears that Customs and Border Protection is asking some brands and retailers to complete a Risk Analysis and Survey Assessment (“RASA”) audit request regarding forced labor and supply chain practices. CBP is using these surveys, and apparently other measures, to gather additional information about imports of cotton and cotton products from the XUAR region. We will discuss these requests in more detail after the holidays.   

USFIA’s Premier Partner PwC's U.S. 2020 Holiday Outlook: November edition is now available. In the report, PwC shares their analysis of shopping trends for U.S. consumers this holiday season based on a national survey of more than 1,000 consumers. The latest outlook points to a K-shaped recovery, where some consumers are thriving and others continue to flail. PwC reports that almost 40% of consumers said their holiday budgets will be business as usual, while 11% have actually increased their holiday budgets.

Among generational brackets, 30% of Millennials (ages 25-38) plan to spend more on gifts this year, which is close to double the rate of consumers overall. Of this age bracket, 68% plan to do their shopping online. Overall, most age groups trust online shopping, with 71% claiming confidence that online transactions will be secure this holiday season. Interestingly, the youngest generation, Gen Z (ages 17-24) trust online shopping the least, at 49%, while the Greatest Generation (ages 74+) trust it the most at 82%.

Be sure to check out the full report below to learn more about what where and when consumers will be buying this holiday season, including the clear differences and similarities in buying practices among age groups, and more. 

Click here to download PwC’s 2020 Holiday Outlook.