AAFA Weekly Brief
March 7, 2017
Supply Chain
March 4: Frank Yiannas has spent years looking in vain for a better way to track lettuce, steaks and snack cakes from farm and factory to the shelves of Walmart, where he is the vice president for food safety. When the company dealt with salmonella outbreaks, it often took weeks to trace where the bad ingredients came from. Then, last year, IBM executives flew to Walmart’s headquarters in Arkansas to propose a solution: the blockchain. The blockchain — the buzzy, bewildering technology behind cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin — is starting to be applied to real-world problems like tracking pork chops, shipping containers and footwear with a speed and security not currently possible. (Source: New York Times)
March 4: A report claims that the Bangladeshi government has used counter-terrorism efforts to justify restrictions of civil and political rights. The US State Department, in its Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016, mentions that the most significant human rights violations in Bangladesh were "extrajudicial killings, arbitrary or unlawful detentions, and forced disappearances by government security forces." (Source: Dhaka Tribune)
March 3: US Federal Maritime Commissioner William Doyle has called for alliance members to be jointly responsible to ensure cargo is delivered in the case of another bankruptcy like Hanjin Shipping. When the Korean Development Bank pulled support for Hanjin in August last year the line filed for insolvency within 24 hours leaving $14bn worth of cargo stranded around the world. "Yes, the warning signs were there that a potential collapse of Hanjin Line could occur. However, nobody really thought that South Korea would allow the world’s seventh largest carrier to go bust," Doyle said a speech to the TPM Conference 2017 in Long Beach. He said that government-supported companies such as Hanjin left a lot to be concerned about, and warned that similar scenarios continue to play out in terms of state backing in the global liner industry. (Source: Seatrade Maritime News)
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Admiral Consulting Group
March 7: President Trump’s advisers and allies are pushing an ambitious idea: Remake American trade. They are considering sweeping aside decades of policy and rethinking how the United States looks at trade with every country. Essentially, after years of criticizing China and much of Europe for the way they handle imports and exports, these officials want to copy them. This approach could result in higher barriers to imports that would end America’s decades-long status as the world’s most open large economy. This could lead to slightly higher prices in the United States for everything from Chilean grapes to iPhones to gasoline. But it could also provide a boost to companies and workers who make things in the United States and sell them abroad. (Source: New York Times)
March 6: The director of President Donald Trump’s newly formed National Trade Council said Monday the administration would make the reduction of U.S. trade deficits its top policy focus. Speaking to a conference of business economists, trade adviser Peter Navarro said the U.S. faced a growing economic and potential national security risk from the commercial behavior of its major trading partners, including China and Germany. (Source: Wall Street Journal)
March 3: U.S. retailers are coming off one of the worst Christmas-shopping seasons in recent memory, and now they have to deal with Paul Ryan. The Republican House Speaker is pushing a corporate tax overhaul that would make imports more expensive, according to the retail industry. If that comes to pass, it would drastically cut into the already-thin profit margins ... At an event this week in Washington’s Watergate Hotel hosted by the American Apparel & Footwear Association, executives talked about the BAT’s potential impact and the difficulty they’ve had winning over members of Congress. Panelists later were peppered with nervous questions about the industry’s lobbying efforts and how companies could prepare if this becomes a reality. "We’re not opposed to tax reform – we’re opposed to being the scapegoat and having our rights traded away without a seat at the table," said Rick Helfenbein, the trade group’s CEO. The industry has gone through the five steps of mourning and now "we reached the anger stage." (Source: Bloomberg)
March 2: The American Apparel & Footwear Association is urging the Trump administration not to begin the renegotiation of NAFTA with the threat of withdrawing from the agreement if U.S. demands are not met. ... "What we really should be doing is starting from the presumption that this is a good agreement, that this agreement is working," [American Apparel & Footwear Association executive vice president Steve Lamar said at the organization’s Executive Summit on March 2], saying NAFTA supports a significant amount of U.S. jobs. (Source: Inside U.S. Trade - article unlocked)
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Brand Protection
March 6: Chinese billionaire Jack Ma was praised by President Donald Trump in January after the internet tycoon pledged to create American jobs by helping a million U.S. businesses sell goods on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s online shopping platforms in Asia. Indiana artist Michel Keck says the platforms have been more hindrance than help. Ms. Keck, whose work has been featured in TV shows, movies and department stores, never sold her mixed-media collages of dogs and abstract paintings on Alibaba’s platforms. But she says counterfeit copies are available on the company’s Taobao Marketplace for as little as 3% of the price of her authentic works. (Source: Wall Street Journal)
March 1: The Office of the United States Trade Representative today released its 2017 trade policy agenda. The report includes numerous references to intellectual property rights, mainly focused on enforcement, plans for multilateral discussions on IPR and trade, and promises of an aggressive stance on geographical indications. ... The report also reaffirms the commitment of the current US administration to enforcement of IP rights, saying in part: "Important sectors of the global economy, and significant markets around the world, have been at times distorted by foreign government subsidies, theft of intellectual property, currency manipulation, unfair competitive behavior by state-owned enterprises, violations of labor laws, use of forced labor, and numerous other unfair practices...." (Source: Intellectual Property Watch)
Naylor Association Solutions

In Brief
Border adjustment tax (BAT) update: In case you missed it, AAFA is a founding member of the Americans for Affordable Products (AAP) coalition. The coalition includes more than 200 members and represents the largest employment sector in the nation. AAP members speak for nearly one out of every four U.S. jobs – more than 42 million in total. The coalition’s concern is that those jobs would be severely threatened under the BAT. Learn more here. Get involved and join thousands of your colleagues by telling Congress how this provision could impact your business here.  

An AAFA Executive Summit for the history books! Last week, AAFA hosted more than 200 industry executives at The Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. for a two-day event covering the latest industry thought leadership. Keynotes included Governor Mitt Romney, Todd Kahn of Coach on "A Story of Transformation," and Major Garrett of CBS News with "Inside the White House." Popular sessions included: Guest Experience Breakthroughs with lululemon, New Balance, and Birchbox; Trade Transformers in the Trump Era with experts from AAFA, VF Corp, and TexOps; and Next Gen Influencers with Strypes, Loomia, and ShopShops.

The night concluded with the ceremonial transition and passing of the gavel from outgoing Chairman Rob DeMartini to incoming Chairman Paula Zusi. For more on what happened at the event, see articles in Sourcing Journal and Women's Wear Daily.

Save the date! AAFA's Executive Summit will return to the Watergate February 28 to March 2, 2018.

AAFA welcomes new Chairman, Board members: During the concluding reception of the AAFA Executive Summit, the association officially recognized outgoing Chairman Rob DeMartini and the transition to our incoming Chairman Paula Zusi, Global Operations Advisor - Retail Supply Chain with Advent International. Following the 2017 Board of Directors elections, AAFA’s new Secretary is Thomas Chubb of Oxford Industries and we are excited to welcome three new Board Members - Colin Browne of Under Armour, Oscar Feldenkreis of Perry Ellis International, and Chris Volpe of United Legwear & Apparel. More information is available here. Paula's acceptance remarks from March 2 are available here.

AAFA files comments supporting FMC demurrage petition: On February 28, AAFA filed comments in support of a petition signed by AAFA and other trade associations to the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC). The petition calls for the FMC to use its existing authority to establish new rules preventing terminal operators and ocean carriers from charging unfair demurrage and detention fees as a result of uncontrollable incidents such as storms, carrier bankruptcies, and labor strikes that prevent cargo from being picked up on time.

Product safety update: On February 28, AAFA submitted comments to the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) on the continued use of nonylphenol ethoxylates in clothing products. Full comments available here. For more on this or AAFA’s Product Safety Council, contact AAFA’s Nate Herman.

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.


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AAFA Events
March & April
Mar. 15 Webinar: Energize the World's Oldest Material with a New Marketing Message
Mar. 16 Member-only Call: Negotiating Carrier Contracts – Navigating Your Way Through This Year’s Contract Season
Mar. 22-23 Government Relations Committee Meeting and Day on the Hill
Mar. 30 Webinar: Product Development, Sourcing, & Supplier Collaboration - An Ariat Story
April 24 2017 AAFA American Image Awards
Visit our events calendar for all AAFA webinars and industry events.

Help us honor the best of the industry at the 2017 AAFA American Image Awards



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