Fashion Intel & Analysis

During the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) eWeek event this week, UNCTAD released its report on global e-commerce which estimates e-commerce sales hit $25.6 trillion in 2018. This estimate is equivalent to 30% of the global GDP in 2018. Companies in China and the United States top the list for business-to-consumer e-commerce sales. It is also clear that as more consumers turn to e-commerce platforms, commerce is increasingly globally interconnected. The share of cross-border online shoppers rose from 17% in 2016 to 23% in 2018. 


Also interesting are the top ten e-commerce companies as ranked by UNCTAD.  Alibaba and Amazon top the list.   

 
The current state of commerce looks very different than in 2018, UNCTAD’s director of technology and logistics, Shakima Sirimanne said "The coronavirus crisis has accelerated the uptake of digital solutions, tools and services, but the overall impact on the value of e-commerce in 2020 is still hard to predict.

Media outlets are reporting that during a call with reporters, officials in the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) said the Trump Administration is considering changes to De Minimus levels. This comes after USTR released the annual Notorious Markets report which focuses on copyright infringement and counterfeits.  A USTR official is quoted saying, “We are aware of the concerns and issues with respect to the de minimis exception. It is something the administration is looking at to see if there are steps that should be taken to address that.”  Public Citizen released a statement calling on the Administration to require "systematic inspection."

 
As you remember, in 2016 Congress increased the De Minimus level from $200 to $800. Responding to these press reports, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) was not in favor of changes to De Minimis levels saying "the position of Congress is clear. The current de minimis threshold is the law of the land and has broad, bipartisan support." 

Today, The United States International Trade Commission (USITC) released its report U.S. Trade and Investment in Sub-Saharan Africa: Recent Trends and New Developments Investigation.he report identifies apparel as one of the fastest-growing U.S. imports for consumption under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). For Kenya, the largest apparel exporter in the region, the USITC noted expanded Third Country Fabric Provisions as a catalyst for growth in apparel production. Citing USFIA's 2019 Benchmarking Study, USITC recognizes the trend of companies looking outside of China for new sourcing hubs as an opportunity for the apparel industry in the region. However, the USITC also noted the Benchmarking Study also found that "only 28 percent of respondents sourced from SSA, a nearly 6 percent decline from 2016. Almost half of the respondents attributed their hesitancy about investing in the region to the temporary nature of AGOA. Moreover, long lead times, lack of infrastructure, and high logistical costs continue to deter apparel retailers from investing in the AGOA region." 

In a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, eleven Senators, led by Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and John Cornyn (R-TX) asked the Trump Administration to help minimize disruptions to U.S. - Mexico supply chains. This is a response to actions by the Mexican government to shut down non-essential businesses to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Senators urge the Administration to press Mexico to expand their definition of "essential businesses" to include the food, medical, transportation, infrastructure, aerospace, automotive, and defense sectors. The Senators emphasize that "both nations will only be able to reduce the economic impact of this global challenge through increased coordination, and ensuring functioning supply chains is a vital step in doing so."

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has released its annual Special 301 Report on Intellectual Property Protection and Review of Notorious Markets for Piracy and Counterfeiting. China remains on the priority watch list. USTR voices concern for China's "system of pressuring and coercing technology transfer, and the continued need for fundamental structural changes to strengthen IP protection and enforcement, including as to trade secret theft, obstacles to protecting trademarks, online piracy and counterfeiting." India is also high on USTR's watch list "for lack of sufficient measurable improvements to its IP framework on long-standing and new challenges that have negatively affected U.S. right holders over the past year." There are 10 countries that are on the priority watch list, and another 24 countries that are on the watch list. USTR is also conducting out-of-cycle reviews of Saudi Arabia and Malaysia over copyright infringement concerns.  

The Notorious Markets report highlights 38 online markets and 34 physical markets that are reported to engage in and facilitate substantial copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting. As always there is a focus on the distribution of pirated content and counterfeit goods online. This year, the report looked closely at Amazon foreign domains in Canada, Germany, France, India and the U.K. According to the report, due to the lack of sufficient vetting for vendors on the platform, the scope and sophistication of counterfeit sellers has grown. The report recommends that Amazon collect sufficient information from sellers, be more responsive to counterfeit complaints, and take proactive measures to prevent counterfeit selling.