WWD Issue 03/22/2011

By Kristi Ellis

The U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel has elected Maureen Gray, vice president of international trade at Polo Ralph Lauren Corp., as its new chairman.

Gray will take the chairmanship for the importing trade and lobbying association as trade-related issues begin to heat up on Capitol Hill.

“I’m looking forward to positioning USA-ITA as a leader in promoting free and open trade in this uncertain political and global climate,” said Gray. “We have some work to do to ensure that the free-trade agreements and preference programs are true 21st century agreements, but I’m confident that we have the expertise and support to accomplish our goals.”

Gray will work with USA-ITA president Julia Hughes to steer the 200-member association, which includes companies such as J.C. Penney Co. Inc., Kohl’s Corp., Pacific Sunwear of California Inc., Ann Inc., Quiksilver Inc. and Macy’s Inc., through trade policy issues on Capitol Hill.

Hughes said the organization’s primary focus is the Obama administration’s negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership regional trade agreement involving nine countries, including the U.S., Peru, Chile, Brunei, Australia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and New Zealand. She noted there are big sourcing opportunities available, particularly if fast-growing Vietnam, currently the second largest apparel supplier to the U.S., has duty free status through a liberal rule of origin.

WWD Copyright ©2010 Fairchild Fashion Group. All rights reserved.