The Department of Commerce issued a press release about a meeting held today between U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and industry representatives from several USA-ITA member companies and USA-ITA President Julie Hughes. USA-ITA helped arrange this meeting to encourage the dialogue between apparel retailers and importers and the Obama Administration on the long- and short-term opportunities to develop the economy in Haiti. A copy of the press release is available below.

If you're interested in expanding your awareness of the benefits created by the Haiti HELP Act, consider downloading a complimentary webinar entitled, "What the Haiti HELP Act Can Do For You." Click here for more information.

From left: Julie Hughes, USA-ITA; Steve Bohman, JC Penney; John Strasburger, VF Corporation; Secretary Locke; Maureen Gray, Polo Ralph Lauren; Don Baum, Polo Ralph Lauren; Rick Wade, Senior Advisor & Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the Secretary, Commerce Department.


Friday, May 28, 2010

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Top apparel importers meet with Locke

WASHINGTON – U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke met today with representatives from key U.S. apparel importers and retailers, including J.C. Penney, VF Americas and Polo Ralph Lauren, at the Commerce Department to discuss trade benefits created by recently passed legislation designed to help U.S. companies increase their apparel sourcing from earthquake-stricken Haiti.

The apparel sector has the greatest potential to generate jobs relatively quickly and boost Haiti's economic recovery, and it's a critical component of the Haitian economy, constituting more than 80 percent of Haitian exports to the United States and employing more than 25,000 workers. Just four months after January's earthquake, Haitian manufacturers are up and running, operating at more than 90 percent capacity.

"Trade benefits between Haiti and the United States were significantly expanded this week when President Obama signed the Haiti Economic Lift Program, known as ‘HELP,'" Locke said. "These benefits will encourage investment in, and sourcing from, Haitian apparel producers, helping to build an economically sustainable Haiti."

Commerce has a lead role in the administration's strategy to assist the people of Haiti and has been instrumental in connecting businesses in the U.S. with opportunities to help in the rebuilding of the Haitian economy. On June 7, Commerce will host a Haiti Reconstruction Forum in Philadelphia to provide information on opportunities for U.S. businesses wanting to contribute to the country's recovery. On June 10-11, Commerce will co-host "Building a New Haiti: Business, Commerce and Investment," a forum in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to share ideas and information about Haitian reconstruction, recovery strategies and programs. Similar events held in Washington, D.C.; New York, N.Y.; and Miami, Fla.; attracted more than 800 participants.

Rick Wade, senior advisor and deputy chief of staff to Locke, is heading the department's Haiti business outreach and joined Locke in today's meeting. Wade attended all three recent conferences and plans to participate in the upcoming June events as well.

"Today's meeting with U.S. apparel importers and retailers gave us greater insight into how we can make ‘HELP' work for Haiti," Wade said. "With this information, we can better facilitate relationships between U.S. companies and Haitian manufacturers at our upcoming events in Philadelphia and Port-au-Prince."

‘HELP' was enacted on Tuesday and significantly extends existing trade benefits for Haitian textiles and apparel until 2020, including increased quotas for knit and woven apparel and unlimited duty-free treatment for certain textile and apparel products. The program greatly increases the attractiveness of the Haitian apparel sector for foreign investment.

For more information on upcoming events in Philadelphia or Port-au-Prince, please visit and