Fashion Intel & Analysis
Following the President’s Oval Office message to the nation, and the growing number of states that are declaring emergencies, we want to be sure that all USFIA members have access to the latest information about COVID-19. Top priority for USFIA is the health and safety of our members and your customers. Sometimes it is difficult to find the latest information so we are providing you with links to the international resources that can help us better understand this evolving situation.
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(Updated March 16, 2020)
Yesterday, Americans for Free Trade (AFT) sent a letter to the House Ways and Means Committee to be included in the public record of the February 27th Committee hearing on U.S.-China Trade and Competition. USFIA is one of the 162 industry groups who support the AFT statement. AFT highlights the economic burden the 301 China tariffs have created for U.S. companies and consumers, AFT’s Tariff Misery Impact shows that tariffs have cost Americans $50 billion since the trade war began. The coalition asks Congress to “to insist that the Administration lift all punitive China tariffs immediately” and “increase oversight of the exclusion process and demand that USTR administer the process in a fair, transparent and efficient manner to ensure that it provides meaningful relief for those bearing the brunt of these harmful tariffs.” This is a message that USFIA will continue to press with the Administration.
The International Trade Commission (ITC) announced Wednesday that it would end an investigation into imports of certain apparel sold by Amazon. Adetayo Osuntogun, Associate at Barnes & Thornburg LLP provides the following analysis of the ITC’s decision.
The termination came about as a consequence of a decision by an ITC administrative law judge to accept a settlement between Style Pantry, a Beverly Hills company that had filed the complaint, and Amazon.com and certain suppliers (Xunyun, Jiaxing Xunyung Imp & Exp Co. Ltd., and Jianzhang Liao, Pinkqueen Apparel Inc.). Style Pantry, in a complaint filed in May 2019 under Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (which permits the ITC to ban imports that violate a U.S. rights-holder’s intellectual property rights), alleged that Amazon had purveyed apparel that violated Style Pantry’s trademarks and copyrighted images. Style Pantry’s complaint was remarkable, because it is, of course, unusual for a complainant to request an ITC ban on apparel imports, in this case Style Pantry’s “fashion dresses, jumpsuits, maxi skirts, and accoutrements.”
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is meeting this week with Congressional leaders to alert them that the Administration will soon announce their intention to begin Free Trade Agreement talks with Kenya. Under the terms of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), the Administration must notify Congress ninety days before starting FTA talks. The negotiations with Kenya will be especially important for fashion brands and retailers since it will likely set the terms for the debate over the future of AGOA (which expires in 2025).
The Congressional-Executive Commission on China today released a new report, "Global Supply Chains, Forced Labor, and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region." The report targets a number of products, including textiles and apparel, and names several apparel brands. Click here to read the report. During the roundtable, several Members of Congress spoke and said that they call on business to take action to end forced labor in Xinjiang. Scott Nova, executive director of the Worker Rights Consortium, specifically targeted the cotton produced in Xinjiang and the fact that a large percentage of the world's cotton comes from this region (and is used in many countries). The WRC is asking brands and retailers to move with "urgency" and sever ties within months. Shelly Han, chief of staff and director of engagement at the Fair Labor Association, spoke about the need to expand the discussion to include the European Union and U.S. government in the campaign to end forced labor in Xinjiang.
Following the release of the report, this week Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and several other Members of Congress are introducing the Uyghur Forced Labor Act. The legislation includes a number of reporting requirements, including by companies to the SEC and by the State Department and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to the Congress. There also is a section of the legislation that creates a "rebuttable presumption" that goods produced or manufactured in XUAR are made with forced labor goods and prohibited from importation into the U.S. unless CBP certifies by "clear and convincing evidence" that certain goods were not produced with forced labor. It is not clear just what this might mean for brands and retailers but we will continue to provide updates to members.
A summary of the legislation is available here.