AAFA Weekly Brief
August 15, 2017
August 13: President Donald Trump’s trade team this week will begin the complicated task of rewriting the sprawling North American Free Trade Agreement, the 23-year-old pact he has branded a "disaster" for U.S. factory workers. The negotiators’ challenge: finding a way to address workers’ concerns while keeping the promise to "do no harm" to the large number of industries and communities that have benefited. (Source: Wall Street Journal)
August 11: As negotiators prepare for this week’s talks about reopening the North American Free Trade Agreement, they’re facing a U.S. president caught between two campaigns. ... "It was candidate Trump who called the Trans-Pacific Partnership the worst trade deal ever negotiated," Rick Helfenbein, president and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association, said in a light-hearted summary of Trump’s dilemma at a panel discussion on trade in New York in June. "And he called NAFTA, the worst trade deal ever signed. And now, our geniuses in Washington are taking elements from the worst trade deal ever negotiated and putting it in the worst trade deal ever signed. And they’re about to claim a big victory on the improvement of NAFTA. That gives you an idea of what we’re dealing with in Washington." (Source: Financial Post)
August 10: Talks between African and U.S. officials to review the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) free trade deal ended on Thursday with no decision and a feeling on all sides that it has achieved little since it was set up. ... [The Trump] administration has said little about Africa, and had not previously mentioned the 2000 AGOA trade agreement. It is not clear whether the U.S. wants to change the deal before it expires in 2025 or extend it further - no decision was made on either count. (Source: Reuters)
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Supply Chain
August 14: Retail earnings season is upon us, in case you haven't already noticed. And although multiple department store chains saw their stocks crater last week on second-quarter results, analysts are saying the environment really isn't as bad as it seems. In fact, department stores, for the most part, posted better-than-expected results. There has been a "severe overreaction" on the Street, Rick Helfenbein, CEO of the American Apparel and Footwear Association, said. "The business is not that bad," Helfenbein told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" on Monday. "I expect good results this week. ... I think we see an improvement." (Source: CNBC)
August 14: President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order as soon as Tuesday that would sharply compress the time federal agencies spend weighing environmental reviews of highways, bridges and other infrastructure projects. ... The goal is to pare down to "one federal decision" whether a proposed project can go forward, the official said. (Source: Wall Street Journal)
August 12: Chinese textile firms are increasingly using North Korean factories to take advantage of cheaper labor across the border, traders and businesses in the border city of Dandong told Reuters. The clothes made in North Korea are labeled "Made in China" and exported across the world, they said. (Source: Reuters)
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Brand Protection
August 14: ... In a ceremony at the White House Monday, Trump signed an executive order empowering U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to investigate China in terms of the "forced transfers of American technology and the theft of intellectual property." ... "We’re at the beginning stages of this," said Stephen Lamar, executive vice president of the American Apparel & Footwear Association. He noted that Trump’s action Monday was part of a long process that "may result in an agreement or may result in actions that would impose additional costs on doing business in China." (Source: WWD – login required)
August 14: Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, who has long faced accusations of not doing enough to eradicate fake goods from its shopping sites, has been stepping up efforts to tackle the problem by investing in better tracking technologies and making new partnerships with brands to go after sellers of illegal merchandise. But despite recent breakthroughs, the company’s sites still have plenty of loopholes that allow counterfeiters to thrive. ... Although the company has stepped up surveillance on its Taobao Bazaar and high-end Tmall online mall, fake goods sellers are simply migrating to other Alibaba platforms. (Source: Forbes)
August 11: ... NPEs, or patent trolls, could be one of the forces crushing dynamism in the U.S. A large body of research documents the potential harm that they can do to young, growing companies. But state governments are fighting back. As of 2016, 32 states had passed laws aimed at limiting NPEs' use of demand letters. Typically, if courts decide a patent holder’s demand letter was unreasonable, it can impose penalties on the person or company making the threats. ... The results look encouraging. States that adopted these laws saw a 2 percent increase in employment at small, high-tech companies, and a 14 percent increase in the number of companies receiving venture-capital funding. (Source: Bloomberg)

In Brief

NAFTA Update: The first round of talks to modernize the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will take place on August 16-20 in Washington, D.C. This follows the release of the Trump administration's negotiating objectives last month. The second round of talks will take place September 1-5 in Mexico City.

AAFA members are encouraged to share any thoughts or concerns regarding the negotiating objectives with Steve Lamar.


Committee Spotlight – Brand Protection Council: The Brand Protection Council focuses its efforts on the global war against counterfeit apparel, footwear, accessories, and other supplier products. Charged with helping to protect U.S. branded products against cheap imitations that are flooding the marketplace, the council is composed of legal, brand enforcement, and marketing representatives of AAFA member companies.

AAFA members actively serve on 11 committees, subcommittees, councils, and working groups. Members have the opportunity to provide thought leadership, share best practices, and address challenges through active participation. Committees meet by conference call, in person 2-3 times a year, and send out regular updates on issues. To join a committee, please contact membership@aafaglobal.org.

AAFA Footwear Workshop: Back by popular demand! AAFA's annual Footwear Workshop will return to New Balance in Lawrence, MA, October 4, 2017. This workshop will bring together the experts to present on what you need to know about trade, tariffs, product safety, and chemical management related to footwear. Register today to reserve your spot!
See all of AAFA’s latest letters, comments, and testimony here.

Congress and government agencies solicit comments on a range of issues that may affect your business – find a list of comment opportunities here.

AAFA Events
August & September
August 17 Webinar: Fighting Supply Chain Corruption
August 23 Webinar: Let's Talk Technology To Reduce Cost & Improve Speed
September 7 Webinar: Color Boot Camp
September 21 Webinar: A Practical Guide to Chemical Management
September 26-27 AAFA Board of Directors Meeting

Visit our events calendar for all AAFA webinars and industry events.
October 4 | Lawrence, MA



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