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AAFA Welcomes New Member:
Smart Apparel



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A leading provider of quality and safety solutions serving a wide range of industries around the world from auditing and inspection, to testing, quality assurance and certification.



In this issue...
Legislative, Trade & Regulatory News
  • House Clears Health Care Reform Bill; Action Moves to Senate on "Fixes"
  • China Heats Up Again Over "Currency Manipulation"
  • USTR Kirk Addresses AAFA Executives; Discusses Trade Agenda, Praises "Logic" of Affordable Footwear Act
  • CPSC Chair Delivers Keynote at AAFA Summit
  • Product Safety - Dems Propose Amendment to CPSIA
  • Product Safety - CPSC Attempts to Define What is a "Children's Product"
  • Obama Signs Jobs Package Into Law
  • Gates and Clinton to Testify to Congress on Defense Budget/Supplimental
  • US Government Stops Major Footwear/Handbag Counterfeiting Ring at Port of Baltimore
  • Minimum Pricing Bill Moves Through Key Senate Committee
  • CPSC Recalls Children's Hooded Sweatshirts
  • New ISO Standards Available
    AAFA Member News
  • AAFA Welcomes New Member: Smart Apparel
    In the Press
  • Health Care Reform Now Faces Senate Challenge
  • China Warns of Safety Hazards in Imported Designer Clothes
  • U.S. Firms Feel Shut Out in China
  • Beijing Warns Against Trade Sanctions
  • U.S. Import Prices Decreased More Than Anticipated
  • CBO: Obamacare Would Cost Over $2 Trillion
  • Stifling the Economy, One Argument at a Time

  • Legislative, Trade & Regulatory News



    HOUSE CLEARS HEALTH CARE REFORM BILL; ACTION MOVES TO SENATE ON "FIXES"
    The US House of Representatives on March 21 cleared a comprehensive health care reform package, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (HR 3590) that had been previously been approved by the US Senate. The measure, which passed the House by a vote of 219-212, will be signed into law this week by President Barack Obama. In an unusual maneuver, the House on March 21 also approved a package of changes to this measure through the budget reconciliation process - (HR 4872, Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010. Those changes are expected to be considered by the Senate later this week. Although conventional wisdom suggests that those changes will also become law since they are operating under this reconciliation process that prevents the 41 Senate Republicans from filibustering, those changes are not necessary for the underlying legislation (the version approved by the House on March 21 and by the Senate on Christmas Eve) to take effect. AAFA was part of a large coalition of associations in the business community that sent a March 19 letter to Congress opposing the current legislation, arguing instead to start over to forge a bipartisan compromise. While the combined bill seeks to extend health insurance to millions of currently uninsured Americans and address spiraling health care costs, there is deep concern that the legislation could actually result in increased costs and mandates for employers and consumers alike. But even passage will not end the debate. Republicans are already beginning to pledge to repeal the legislation while several state attorney's general have begun the process of filing lawsuits to challenge the constitutionality of mandates in the bill. (Kurt Courtney)



    CHINA HEATS UP AGAIN OVER "CURRENCY MANIPULATION"
    Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) led a bipartisan group of Senators in reintroducing legislation March 16 that would impose punitive actions against countries deemed to be manipulating their currencies. While the legislation does not include a measure previously promoted by the Senators that would have imposed a draconian 27.5 percent across the board import duty on US imports from countries that are deemed currency manipulators, the new legislation would make it much easier for US manufacturers to bring trade remedy (anti-dumping (AD)/countervailing duty (CVD)) cases against US imports from China over currency manipulation. The fate of the legislation will likely hinge on two pending Obama administration decisions, one a U.S. Department of Treasury semi-annual statutory report due April 15, which must name countries that the US government believes are manipulating their currency, and the other a decision due later this spring from the US Department of Commerce on whether to treat currency manipulation as a "countervailable subsidy" under US trade remedy laws. (Nate Herman)

    USTR KIRK ADDRESSES AAFA EXECUTIVES; DISCUSSES TRADE AGENDA, PRAISES "LOGIC" OF AFFORDABLE FOOTWEAR ACT
    Ambassador Ron Kirk, the President's US Trade Representative (USTR), delivered the closing keynote address at the AAFA Annual Executive Summit on March 12, 2010. His speech touched on a number of key trade issues, such as the President's commitment to double exports, intellectual property rights (IPR), on-going multilateral trade talks, trade preferences, trade negotiations with Asian countries and efforts to rebuild Haiti. He talked extensively about the importance of imports for US trade policies, for US consumers, and for American jobs, remarks which drew the attention of the Washington trade policy community. Kirk praised the role AAFA members play in supporting US economic growth by stating, "Every foreign sale you make supports American designers, customs and logistics professionals, and financing and transportation experts." In reference to the Affordable Footwear Act (AFA), which has now been co-sponsored by 20 percent of the US Senate, Kirk said, "You can't argue with the logic of it." Kirk also noted that one of the first letters he read when he entered office were comments filed by AAFA President and CEO Kevin Burke on IPR. AAFA will continue to work closely with Kirk and other Administration officials to promote AAFA member interests in this arena. (Steve Lamar)

    CPSC CHAIR DELIVERS KEYNOTE AT AAFA SUMMIT
    Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) Chairman Inez Tenenbaum addressed AAFA members at AAFA's Annual Executive Summit in Washington, DC on March 12. In her speech, Chairman Tenenbaum highlighted the importance of the partnership between AAFA and the CPSC as the CPSC has worked to implement the new regulations mandated by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). Chairman Tenenbaum's remarks also addressed the CPSC's regulatory powers, its enforcement abilities and recent safety concerns like cadmium in children's jewelry highlighted in the media. Chairman Tenenbaum offered guidance to companies on correct testing procedures and forthcoming rules on standards. (Rebecca Mond)



    PRODUCT SAFETY - DEMS PROPOSE AMENDMENT TO CPSIA
    In recognition of the numerous problems with the implementation of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), Democrats in Congress are floating a draft proposal that would amend the CPSIA to address some concerns and provide the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) with additional flexibilities to implement the CPSIA. The draft amendment would, among other things, grant the CPSC limited flexibility to exclude materials, components or products from the CPSIA lead requirements if the function of the material, component or product requires lead, cannot likely be placed in the mouth or ingested or will have "no measurable adverse effect on public health or safety." Further, the draft amendment would make the 100ppm lead content standard that goes into effect August 2011 apply prospectively, rather than being retroactive. AAFA is urging Congress to include language that would allow the CPSC to consider and approve the use of XRF guns and other alternative technology in lieu of the "third-party" lab testing required under the CPSIA. AAFA would appreciate feedback on the draft amendment from members. Many believe the amendment could move through Congress sometime this summer. (Rebecca Mond)

    PRODUCT SAFETY - CPSC ATTEMPTS TO DEFINE WHAT IS A "CHILDREN'S PRODUCT"
    The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released a proposed interpretative rule titled Interpretation of a Children's Product. The proposed rule is not up for ballot vote and will go into effect once the final rule is published (though the CPSC is still accepting comments). The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) defines a "children's product" as "a consumer product designed or intended primarily for children 12 years of age or under" (emphasis added). The proposed rule details what factors should be used in determining whether a product should be considered a children's product under the CPSIA. In its proposed interpretive rule, the CPSC reiterated their position that, "…if an older child or adult is as likely, or more likely to interact with the [product] than a child, such a [product] would not be a product designed or intended primarily for children 12 years of age or younger, and thus, would not be considered a children's product." The CPSIA lays out four factors that are to be taken into account when determining whether a product is a children's product or not. The proposed rule elaborates on these factors. (Rebecca Mond)

    OBAMA SIGNS JOBS PACKAGE INTO LAW
    The US Senate on March 17 approved the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act by a vote of 68-29 after months of wrangling between the House and Senate. President Barack Obama signed the legislation into law March 18. In that package, businesses that hire anyone who has been out of work for at least 60 days will be exempt from paying the 6.2 percent social security payroll taxes on that employee through December 2010. Employers also receive an additional $1,000 tax credit for each new worker who stays on the job for a full year. However, even as the President signs the bill, debate continues on how much the jobs package, which includes $18 billion in tax breaks and $20 billion for highway and transit programs, will actually encourage hiring. The House and Senate are still working to finish legislation that will extend various tax expiring (or already expired) tax provisions. This tax extenders package would also renew recently expired AAFA-supported provisions enabling the US Small Business Administration (SBA) to increase guarantees on small business loans from 75 percent to 90 percent and eliminate fees charged on small business loans. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) is working with leadership now to push for jobs legislation to focus on manufacturing and energy efficiency, including an extension of the advanced manufacturing tax credit and incentives for homeowners and businesses to improve the energy efficiency of homes and offices. The US House of Representatives will also vote this week on another $17 billion package of additional small business and infrastructure tax incentives. (Kurt Courtney)


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    GATES AND CLINTON TO TESTIFY TO CONGRESS ON DEFENSE BUDGET/SUPPLEMENTAL
    Defense Secretary Robert Gates will testify March 24 before the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee on the Obama administration's Fiscal Year 2011 Department of Defense (DoD) budget request. The $708.2 billion includes $548.9 billion for the base budget and $159.3 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The base budget proposal marks an $18.2 billion, or 3.4 percent, increase over this year's approved spending levels for the Pentagon. Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will also testify March 25 before the Senate Appropriations Committee on the FY 2010 defense supplemental funding request. The Pentagon has asked for an additional $33 billion this year to pay for the wars - money that defense officials have said they need by Memorial Day or they will have to transfer funds from other accounts to pay for urgent war needs. The request would mostly pay for the surge of US troops into Afghanistan and efforts to more quickly train Afghan security forces. (Kurt Courtney)

    US GOVERNMENT STOPS MAJOR FOOTWEAR/HANDBAG COUNTERFEITING RING AT PORT OF BALTIMORE
    In one of the largest cases of its kind, an investigation by the US Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) resulted in the March 19 indictment of nine people for running a smuggling ring that allegedly illegally smuggled into the United States a total of 120,000 pairs of counterfeit Nike shoes, 500,000 counterfeit Coach handbags, 10,000 pairs of counterfeit Coach and Gucci shoes and 500 counterfeit Cartier wrist watches. Footwear regularly ranks as the top counterfeit item seized by US Customs, followed closely by fashion accessories and apparel. (Nate Herman)

    MINIMUM PRICING BILL MOVES THROUGH KEY SENATE COMMITTEE
    The Senate Judiciary Committee on March 18 approved the Discount Pricing Consumer Protection Act (S 148) by voice vote. The House Judiciary Committee approved similar legislation on January 13. If approved by the full Congress, the legislation would overturn a 2007 Supreme Court decision that overturned decades of established law by permitting US apparel and footwear brands to establish minimum prices for their products. It is unclear when the legislation will be brought to the House or Senate floor for a vote. (Nate Herman)

    CPSC RECALLS CHILDREN'S HOODED SWEATSHIRTS
    The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced the voluntary recall of 23,000 children's hooded sweatshirts manufactured by Haselson International and sold exclusively at Burlington Coat Factory. The sweatshirts were recalled due to drawstring violations. This year to date, the CPSC has announced 13 drawstring recalls and 14 total apparel recalls. (Rebecca Mond)

    NEW ISO STANDARDS AVAILABLE
    The following ISO International Standards have been published: 1.) ISO 105-C08:2010 (ISO/TC 38/SC 1): Textiles -- Tests for color fastness -- Part C08: Color fastness to domestic and commercial laundering using a non-phosphate reference detergent incorporating a low-temperature bleach activator; 2.) ISO 3175-1:2010 (ISO/TC 38/SC 2): Textiles -- Professional care, drycleaning and wetcleaning of fabrics and garments -- Part 1: Assessment of performance after cleaning and finishing; 3.) ISO 3175-2:2010 (ISO/TC 38/SC 2): Textiles -- Professional care, drycleaning and wetcleaning of fabrics and garments -- Part 2: Procedure for testing performance when cleaning and finishing using tetrachloroethene; and 4.) ISO 14419:2010 (ISO/TC 38/SC 2): Textiles -- Oil repellency -- Hydrocarbon resistance test. These and all ISO standards are available from ANSI's eStandards Store. (Rebecca Mond)

    AAFA Member News


    AAFA WELCOMES NEW MEMBER: SMART APPAREL
    Smart Apparel, US, Inc.
    Bob Skinner, CEO
    1400 Broadway, 10th Floor
    New York, New York, 10018
    Tel: 212.329.3400
    bobskinner@smartapparelus.com
    www.smartapparelus.com

    Smart Apparel is a leading resource for top clothing brands and retailers. A fully vertical, integrated supplier, they offer clients a complete range of services – from concept to retail – to maximize sell through. Smart Apparel collections encompass in house brands, including: Nautica, Perry Ellis and a client roster of more than 50 leading brands and top retailers. (Maureen Storch)


    In the Press



    Health Care Reform Now Faces Senate Challenge
    from CNN
    Now that the House has passed the Senate's health care reform bill and a package meant to reconcile differences between the House and Senate bills, the next step is for members of the Senate to sign off on those changes. More

    China Warns of Safety Hazards in Imported Designer Clothes
    from AFP via Yahoo! News
    China has impounded shipments of imported designer clothing from famous labels such as Hermes and Versace after finding they contained potentially hazardous chemicals, authorities said. More

    U.S. Firms Feel Shut Out in China
    from The Wall Street Journal
    A growing number of U.S. companies feel unwelcome in China, according to a new survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in China, as measures aimed at squeezing foreign technology companies out of the vast government-procurement market start to bite. More

    Beijing Warns Against Trade Sanctions
    from The Street
    China's commerce minister delivered a clear warning to the U.S. not to impose trade sanctions as retaliation for Beijing's currency controls. More

    U.S. Import Prices Decreased More Than Anticipated
    from Bloomberg via BusinessWeek
    Prices of goods imported into the U.S. fell in February more than anticipated, a sign there is little inflation pressure coming from abroad. More

    CBO: Obamacare Would Cost Over $2 Trillion
    from The Weekly Standard
    The CBO's most recent analysis is out, and it's not likely to convince wavering House Democrats to jump to the Obamacare side of the fence. More

    Stifling the Economy, One Argument at a Time
    from The New York Times
    Frustrated with years of delay and stonewalling, 130 members of Congress last week urged the Obama administration to punish China for manipulating the value of its currency to the detriment of American exports. But this issue does not stand alone. More
     


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    AAFA Events & Educational Programs

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    Human Resources Leadership Council (HRLC) Meeting
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