Member News

USFIA Board Update

The USFIA Board of Directors met in New York City to plan for the year ahead. During the meeting, the Board elected the slate of officers for 2019: Chairman Michael Singer, Vice President of Customs & Social Compliance at Macy’s; Vice Chairman Anna Walker, Senior Director of Global Policy & Advocacy for Levi Strauss & Co.; Treasurer Stefanie Rotta, Senior Director of Global Sourcing for URBN Inc.; and Secretary Sonja Chapman, Director of International Traffic & Customs Compliance for Golden Touch Imports.

The Board elected two new members, as well: Dan Bloch, Vice President of Finance for MGF Sourcing, and Elena Hogan, Vice President of International Trade for Ralph Lauren Corporation.

If you have feedback for the Board on the association’s strategy or activities, or would like to get more involved in the Board or one of our committees, send a note to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

In the News

In November, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement dominated the news cycle, with coverage of our testimony in outlets including CNN, ABC7, Inside U.S. Trade, and more. In addition, our conference we covered by several trade publications including WWD, Just-Style, Luxury Daily, and Sourcing Journal. For these media hits and more, visit the newsroom on our website.

In Case You Missed It…

November 6: USFIA and U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) hosted an apparel classification workshop with the National Import Specialists for apparel, accessories, and other textile products. The view from One World Trade Center was spectacular, but attendees were more interested in talking about classification issues. From t-shirts to travel bags to coated fabrics, there was a lot of excitement while the classification insiders reviewed trends. Some brands and retailers even brought samples and shared new features with the National Import Specialists.

November 7: USFIA hosted the 30th Apparel Importers Trade & Transportation Conference at PwC in New York City. More than 150 attendees from across the industry enjoyed our marquee conference, featuring speakers from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), brands and retailers including Levi’s, Tapestry, and Vineyard Vines, Washington and China experts, and USFIA’s partners PwC, GEODIS, BSI, and Bamboo Rose, among others. We concluded the day with a fun networking reception at Tommy Bahama on Fifth Avenue. Thanks to our sponsors and speakers for making the event a huge success, and especially to our Premier Partner PwC for being such a fabulous host!

November 13: USFIA Vice President Samantha Sault attended an intimate dinner with fashion designer Vicky Tiel, a protegee of Coco Chanel whose Paris atelier produced gowns for starlets and society women in the 60s, 70s, and 80s (including the iconic “Pretty Woman” gown). The dinner for 20 was attended by Assistant Secretary of State for Educational & Cultural Affairs Marie Royce, The Washington Post’s Robin Givhan, and local government and media representatives.

November 16: USFIA President Julia Hughes testified during the two-day U.S. International Trade Commission’s hearing on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Most industry groups were supportive of the new agreement but raised concerns about the impact of other Trump Administration trade actions, such as the 232s, to limit trade opportunities with Mexico and Canada. Click here to read the press release and testimony.

November 16: USFIA Vice President Samantha Sault attended the second edition of DiplomacyXDesign, which took place at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in conjunction with the Meridian International Center. The invite-only event included a cross-section of the Washington DC diplomatic, fashion, and media communities and featured a tour of the museum’s Rodarte exhibit, followed by a panel discussion on fashion and diplomacy featuring Meredith Koop, stylist to Michelle Obama, and Indira Gumarova, wife of the Czech Ambassador to the U.S. who has worked with Manolo Blahnik. You can see photos on our Facebook page!

Calendar of Events

November 30 (Online): USFIA Associate Member KPMG will host a free webinar, TradeWatch: Update on Country of Origin Rules.

December 5 (Online): USFIA and Associate Member Canopy will host a free webinar, Forest Fibre in Fashion – The CanopyStyle Initiative.

December 5 (Online): TextileExchange will host a free webinar, Organic Textile Labeling in the United States.

December 12 (Online): USFIA and Associate Member Vandegrift will host a webinar, Keeping Up with the Compliance Challenges: What Brands & Retailers Need to Know in 2019.

January 9 (Online): USFIA will host our biannual members-only State of the Industry Virtual Townhall, a webinar on policy and association updates featuring USFIA leadership, counsel, and partners.

January 31 (San Francisco, CA): USFIA will host Fashion Forward San Francisco, a full-day trade and customs conference at Levi Strauss & Co. We encourage you to register early because this event typically fills to capacity.

February 4-7 (Las Vegas, NV): Save the Date for SOURCING at MAGIC! We’ll provide details on seminars and other special events soon.

April 2 (Washington, DC): The USFIA Board of Directors will meet.

USFIA members Abercrombie & Fitch and Levi Strauss & Co. joined nearly 150 other companies in launching the Time to Vote campaign, a non-partisan effort led by CEOs to increase voter participation. The companies have committed to encouraging their employees to vote in the upcoming midterm elections, by offering programs like paid time off, a day without meetings, and resources for mail-in ballots and early voting. For more details on the initiative, visit www.maketimetovote.org.

(And make plans to join us the day after the elections at our annual conference in New York! The registration fees increase at midnight ET tonight!)

Gold continues to be the leading factor leading to conflict in the Congo. An estimated $300-$600 million worth of gold is smuggled out of the country each year and later traded on international markets, including the United States—and a new report by The Sentry, the investigative and policy research arm of The Enough Project, has found that some of that gold may be making its way into U.S. companies’ supply chains. This week, The Atlantic Council hosted an event featuring USFIA member the Responsible Business Alliance (RBA) to discuss the findings and the path forward

Sasha Lezhnev, Deputy Director of Policy at The Enough Project, reviewed the organization’s new report highlighting how gold mined in conflict areas in eastern Congo may be reaching the supply chains of 283 US. Publicly listed companies. The conflict gold is being exported from Congo at the African Gold Refinery (AGR) in Uganda through a series of companies and ending in the United States in products including jewelry, gold bars for banks, and electronics.

The report offers recommendations for the U.S. government and companies to support conflict-free gold trade, including targeted network sanctions, anti-money laundering red flags and advisories, and even encouraging the Ugandan government to find and prosecute the violators. Click here to read the full report.

The Responsible Business Alliance’s Hillary Amster talked about the organization’s Responsible Minerals Initiative, which is dedicated to addressing sourcing issues in the supply chain and providing companies with resources to make smart sourcing decisions to improve regulatory compliance and support responsible sourcing from conflict-affected high-risk areas. To improve the global gold supply chain, companies must be responsible with sourcing decisions, follow due-diligence guidelines, and do more work on ground in terms of validating gold sites. Companies can have a direct impact on the situation through sourcing decisions, and customers can have a social impact by applying pressure to companies and creating incentive to source from conflict-free areas or take extreme precautions otherwise.

For more information on the RBA and this issue, we encourage you to review our executive summary on conflict minerals or our webinar earlier this year on strengthening minerals due diligence, or visit www.responsiblebusiness.org.

Report by Molly McNulty, USFIA Communications Coordinator

If you’re thinking about diversifying your sourcing, either to manage risks, or mitigate the impact of the tariffs, it’s a good time to consider Africa. Join USFIA International Affiliate Ready-Made Garments Export Council of Egypt in November for Destination Africa, the third-annual B2B sourcing exhibition showcasing the wide variety of apparel and textiles available on the continent. 

The event will take place November 17-19, 2018, in Cairo, Egypt.

You’ll meet suppliers eligible for duty-free treatment under the Egypt Qualified Industrial Zone (QIZ) as well as the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

Packages including airfare, hotel accommodations, and local transportation may be available for eligible sourcing executives and buyers.

For more information, contact Alan Parter at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 212-867-1717 or visit www.destination-africa.org.

Akin Gump Alert: New De Minimis Changes Pose Risk to U.S. Express Carriers & Consumers

USFIA Associate Member Akin Gump has published an alert on the de minimis changes in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which has thresholds significantly lower than the current U.S. de minimis of $800 USD. Due to the reciprocal treatment provision in the agreement, they say the agreement poses risks to U.S. express carriers and consumers. Click here to read the entire alert.

In Case You Missed It… 

October 2: USFIA and Associate Member Arent Fox hosted a webinar, How to Fight the Trade War: The Exclusions Process.

October 3: USFIA Vice President Samantha Sault spoke at the Istanbul Fashion Conference about the impact of U.S. trade policy on the global fashion industry and opportunities for U.S.-Turkey trade. She joined sourcing executives from Ralph Lauren, VF, and Newtimes on a panel moderated by Cuneyt Yavuz, CEO of Mavi. The two-day event had more than 800 attendees including global brands and retailers, Turkish manufacturers, and international sustainability associations and organizations.

October 3: USFIA and Associate Member Akin Gump hosted a webinar, NAFTA Update.

October 4: USFIA and Customs Broker Partner GEODIS USA hosted a webinar, How to Fight the Trade War: The Broker’s Perspective.

October 11: USFIA and Associate Member Kelley Drye hosted a webinar, How to Fight the Trade War: Triage Your Supply Chain.

October 15: USFIA and Sustainability Partner BSI hosted a webinar, The Convergence of Security & Human Rights Risks. 

October 23: USFIA President Julia Hughes attended an industry meeting with Commerce Department Under Secretary for International Trade Gill Kaplan to discuss opportunities for the Administration to support industry efforts to expand domestic manufacturing and employment. USFIA member Nashville Fashion Alliance also participated in the meeting and shared the prospectus for their Resource Center. Any USFIA members with other programs to share should contact Julie directly.

Calendar of Events 

October 30 (Online): USFIA and Customs Broker Partner GEODIS USA will host a webinar, Duty Savings Using the MTB.

November 6 (New York): USFIA will host a pre-conference event, Apparel Classification Workshop: Meet the National Import Specialists.

November 7 (New York): USFIA will host our annual conference, the Apparel Importers Trade & Transportation Conference, in conjunction with host sponsor PwC. The registration rates will increase tonight at midnight ET, so register soon!

November 8 (New York): The USFIA Board of Directors will meet.

Mark your calendars for USFIA’s 2019 major events!

January 31 (San Francisco): Save the Date! USFIA will host Fashion Forward San Francisco at Levi Strauss & Co.

April 2 (Washington, DC): The USFIA Board of Directors will meet.

July 17 (Washington, DC): Save the Date! USFIA will host the Washington Trade Symposium on Capitol Hill.

July 18 (Washington DC): The USFIA Board of Directors will meet.