The American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) and the US Fashion Industry Association (USFIA) , the two leading industry organizations representing the US fashion and apparel industry, jointly released a position paper this week on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP), which is currently under negotiation between the United States and the European Union.
The position paper spells out a few priorities deemed by the US fashion apparel industry for the T-TIP:
- Full, immediate and reciprocal elimination of tariffs, meaning import duties on all apparel products shall be eliminated on day one without phrase-out periods.
- Flexible rules of origin, meaning restrictive rules of origin such as “yarn-forward” which requires companies to use textile inputs from certain regions so as to enjoy the duty free market access shall be abandoned and replaced by simpler and more flexible ones.
- Regulatory coherence, such as harmonization on labeling regulations, harmonization of product safety and test method regulations, and establishing of a harmonized list of prohibited substances.
- Emphasis on facilitative customs provisions, meaning improving predictability, simplicity and uniformity in border procedures.
The European Branded Clothing Alliance is also a party of the joint statement; however, the European Textile and Apparel Confederation (Euratex) is not involved.
On the other hand, in May 2014, the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), which represents the interests of the US textile industry, announced its priorities for the T-TIP negation, including:
- Adopt the “yarn-forward” rules of origin in T-TIP
- Set phrase-out periods for sensitive textile and apparel products
- Protect the Berry Amendment (which requires all US military uniforms have to be 100% made in USA)
In its annual release, the European Apparel and Textile Federation (Euratex) provides a skeletal statistical profile of the EU textile and apparel (T&A) in 2013. Most statistics cited in the report comes from the Eurostat.
In 2013, T&A production in EU overall remains stable. Output of Man-made fiber (MMF) enjoyed a 6.8 percent growth from a year earlier, although production of textile (yarns, fabrics and made-ups) and apparel respectively declined 0.1 percent and 4.2 percent. Accumulatively, from 2010 to 2013, production of MMF, textile and apparel in EU has down 15.2 percent, 8.1 percent and 13.3 percent respectively.
Employment in the EU T&A industry continues to move downward in size, shrinking from 1.73 million in 2012 to 1.64 million in 2013. The most significant drop happened in the apparel subsector, which suffered a 4 percent job loss from 2012 to 2013. The number of employment in the textile and MMF subsectors goes down 3.7 percent and 1 percent respectively.
Affected by the slow economic recovery in the region, EU consumers seem still hesitant in expending more money on T&A products in 2013. Value of T&A consumption in EU (28) stood at €483.9 billion in 2013, only a slight increase of 0.2 percent from 2012.
The two-way EU T&A trade enjoyed a modest growth from 2012 to 2013. Particularly, despite reported decline in production, value of EU apparel exports in 2013 increased 4 percent, reflecting the growing demand for “made in EU” apparel products in other parts of the world. In terms of import, consistent with the pattern of consumption, EU apparel imports slightly increased 1.7 percent from 2012 to 2013. It should be noted that China is gradually losing market share in the EU apparel import market. From 2012 to 2013, value of China’s apparel exports to the EU declined 4 percent, compared with 10 percent growth of Bangladesh.