US: Yarn-forward rule row flares up again

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A row has flared up again over the yarn-forward rule of origin in US free trade agreements after The Hosiery Association (THA) called for a knit-to-shape, assembly-only exception for socks and hosiery in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Three textile trade associations have now written to US Trade Representative Ron Kirk expressing their “strong opposition” to the proposal.

The American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition (AMTAC), National Council of Textile (NCTO) Organizations, and American Fiber Manufacturers Association (AFMA) say any such move “conflicts with the US textile industry’s longstanding support” of a yarn-forward rule of origin for textiles and apparel.

The yarn-forward rule requires all stages of production – from yarn spinning to fabric formation and final garment assembly – to be done either in the United States or in an FTA partner country to qualify for duty-free treatment.

US textile groups say the rule is “long-established” and “logical” because the value of a finished item comes from its components, rather than from its final assembly.

But American retailers, apparel brands, manufacturers and importers argue it is too restrictive, hinders new trade and investment in the sector, and renders most existing trade ineligible for preferential tariff treatment.

The Hosiery Association wants the TPP pact – currently being negotiated by the US, Vietnam, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia and Peru – to allow hosiery producers to source yarns for man-made fibre socks and hosiery outside the TPP region in all instances except in the case of 100% cotton and polyester products.

But “this proposal would be a massive blow to US and other TPP producers who manufacture acrylic, nylon and various other types of man-made fibre yarns,” the textile groups say.

“In short, the THA proposal allows yarns currently made in large quantities in the United States to be sourced from third parties, notably China,” the letter says.

Apparel Market: Landscape of Change

An article from the Textile World Highlights:

  • The global apparel retail industry grew by 3.4% in 2011 to reach a value of $1,175,353.1 million. In 2016, the global apparel retail industry is forecast to have a value of $1,348,098.8 million, an increase of 14.7% since 2011.  Americas accounts for 36% of the global apparel retail industry value.
  • Technlogy is changing consumers’ shopping behavior as well as preferences (such as redefining value of products). The internet, smartphones and social networking are driving the apparel industry to a greater extent than ever before.
  • “Made in USA” is attracting consumers, however, to be more accurate, it means “source in the Western Hemisphere” rather than moving manufacturing totally back in the U.S.. However, in order to have “near sourcing” happen, addtional trade liberalization is required to remove the so much constraints.  
  • Supply chain transparancy and cooridnation is with growing significance to the success of business in the apparel companies.
  • The only constant in the apparel industry is change (enviorment, business model, product innovation, technology…).

Re-shoring US apparel making tough but not impossible

This recent comment from Just-style argues that re-shoring U.S. apparel manufacturing may become likely given China’s quickly rising labor cost. However, another two points mentioned by the article deserve more attention: one is that in order to make “made-in-USA” apparel competitive, industry leaders believe that tariffs and trade barriers on imported yarns and fabrics need to be much lowered. The question is, how realistic this “goodwill” can become true, considering the attitude of the US textile sector on the matter and their political influences. Second, although there might be some demands for sewing jobs in the U.S., these occupations are very low paid. The article admits that except immigrant, propably few Americans today (even those unemployeed) would like to take them (and have the qualified skills).  Then, does re-shoring really matter for college graduates in the fashion apparel program?  

To read the full article, click here

Opinion: Apparel imports boost U.S. jobs

Key points:

“These four million U.S. workers – seen and unseen – help you get dressed every day. They design shoes and clothes, perform research and development, cut and sew, supervise production, handle customs and logistics, ensure product safety compliance, market and merchandise product, outfit our troops and work on the sales floor. In addition to these four million workers, there are countless U.S. transportation, distribution, warehousing, and logistics workers who depend on our industry for their jobs.”

“about 75 percent of the retail value of most clothing and footwear comes from non-manufacturing activities that happen entirely inside the United States.”
“Supply chain jobs and manufacturing jobs are equally valuable to the overall health of the U.S. economy. It is wrong to foster a public policy agenda that forces these two groups to compete against each other. ”

Written by Kevin Burke. president and chief executive officer of the American Apparel & Footwear Association.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0712/78779.html#ixzz21PNrJzHK

Fashion Forward: Zara is trying to go global

Can fast fashion go global? Does the business model which heavily rely on local supply fit for global operation? As mentioned in the article, 70% of Zara’s sale in 2001 came from the EU, although it has opened 179 new stores in Asia in 2011, 156 of them in China.

To do business in emerging markets may incur many unique barriers and challenges. For example, the article reported that China’s consumer watchdog attacked Zara for poor quality in 2011. Often time we see much heavier invovlement of government in economic activities. And many emerging markets are very segmented (due to regional economic development gap) than in the US/west. Europe.

To read the fulltext, click here