U.S. GOVERNMENT AVERTS YET ANOTHER SHUTDOWN
President Barack Obama on March 18 signed into law H.J. Res. 48, a continuing resolution (CR) that cuts $6 billion from current discretionary spending and continues to fund the government through April 8. The new short-term CR), which passed 87-13 in the US Senate, is designed to provide additional time for lawmakers to negotiate a deal for the remainder of the current fiscal year, which ends on September 30. The US House of Representatives on March 15 had approved the CR by a vote of 271-158, with 54 Republicans joining 104 Democrats in opposition. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Jacob Lew is expected to step up talks with House Republicans to reach a deal on a six-month government funding bill by the end of March. The new short-term CR cuts $6 billion from current spending, while the previous, two-week stopgap CR pared $4 billion from current discretionary spending. Both CRs were crafted to cut $2 billion a week, which is the prorated amount of the Republican CR passed by the House last month that would cut $61 billion from current spending a GOP campaign promise. (Kurt Courtney)
FREE TRADE AGENDA REMAINS MIRED AS PRESIDENT TRAVELS TO LATIN AMERICA
As President Obama embarked on a trip to three Latin American countries, Congressional leaders from both parties continued to press hard to secure Administration support for a timetable that will lead to swift consideration of three pending free trade agreements (FTAs) with Colombia, Panama, and Korea. Although President Obama has expressed "support" for all three FTAs, he has so far only signaled a willingness to send the Korea FTA to Congress for a vote. Administration officials have indicated that further work needs to be done to the FTAs. Among other things, they have pointed to "round the clock" negotiations with the Colombian government to address unspecified outstanding labor issues. Congressional leaders, however, have insisted that no further action should occur on Korea until the Administration is ready to move the Panama and Colombia FTAs as well. This message has been echoed in a series of hearings over the last two months, including two last week in the House. A number of House and Senate members, including a majority of Freshman House Republicans and a number of Freshman Senate Republicans, have also written to the President urging action. (Steve Lamar)
AAFA RELEASES RSL 8
AAFA published the eight edition of the industry-wide AAFA Restricted Substances List (RSL) on March 21, covering apparel, footwear, and home textiles. The AAFA RSL, first released in the summer of 2007, lists chemicals and other substances whose presence in a product is restricted through a government regulation or law. The list identifies the most restrictive iteration of that regulation worldwide. The list, which has become the global industry standard for RSLs, can be downloaded for free from the AAFA Web site. Other chemical management tools are also available for free on the AAFA website. (Greg Yahr)
EUROPE DUMPING DUTIES ON LEATHER FOOTWEAR IMPORTS TO END MARCH 31
The European Commission on March 16 published a Notice of Expiry on dumping duties on European imports of leather footwear from China (16.5%), Macau (16.5%) and Vietnam (10%). The dumping duties expire March 31. As a result, leather footwear imported into Europe from China, Vietnam or Macau on or after April 1 will no longer be subject to the dumping duties. European imports of leather footwear from China, Vietnam and Macau will remain subject to normal duties of 8 percent. The dumping duties have been in place since October 2006. The Notice of Expiry also announced the imposition of a monitoring program on European imports of leather footwear from China, Vietnam and Macau for a period of one year. It is unclear what would happen if there is a "surge" in leather footwear imports from any one of these countries during the monitoring period. (Nate Herman)
COUNTERFEIT FOOTWEAR TOP ITEM SEIZED BY CUSTOMS FOR FIFTH YEAR IN A ROW, APPAREL & FASHION ACCESSORIES CLOSE BEHIND
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (Customs) on March 16 released its annual intellectual property seizure statistics for 2010. For the fifth year in a row, counterfeit footwear ranked as the number one most intercepted article by value, equaling 24% of total customs seizures (an 8% decline from 2009). Wearing apparel and fashion accessories each accounted for 10% and 8% respectively of the total value of seized fake goods in 2010. However, these and other luxury goods saw a markup from Domestic Value to Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) from 300% to over 3,000%, which represents the dramatic increase in profit for counterfeiters in the marketplace that includes shoes, handbags, watches, wearing apparel and jewelry. (Kurt Courtney)
FUR PRODUCTS LABELING ACT IN FULL EFFECT FTC REQUESTS COMMENTS
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) eliminated the small quantity/small value exemptions for the disclosure requirements under the Fur Products Labeling Act on March 18. Congress eliminated the exemptions when it approved the Truth in Fur Labeling Act (TFLA) at the end of last year. As result, all products containing any amount of fur now entering commerce, regardless of value, must label the product as containing fur. Further, as per the TFLA, the FTC requests comments regarding a review of the Fur Products Name Guide and the FTC's Fur Labeling and Advertising Rules. Comments are due May 16. (Rebecca Mond)
DHS, INCLUDING CUSTOMS, REQUESTS COMMENTS ON WHAT DHS REGS SHOULD BE MODIFIED, STREAMLINED OR REPEALED
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requests comments on whether any DHS rules or regulations, including regulations promulgated by DHS agencies like U.S. Customs and Border Protection (Customs) or the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), should be modified, streamlined, expanded or repealed, so as to make DHS's regulatory program more effective or less burdensome in achieving its regulatory objectives. The review is required by Executive Order 13563, "Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review," which was issued by President Barack Obama on January 18, 2011. Please contact AAFA's Nate Herman at 703-797-9062 with suggestions or comments. Comments are due April 13. (Nate Herman)
TRANSPORTATION FREIGHT FOCUS ACT OF 2011 INTRODUCED
Congresswoman Laura Richardson (D-CA) on March 16 introduced the Freight is the Future Of Commerce in the United States (FOCUS) Act of 2011 (H.R. 1122). The legislation seeks to address critical freight transportation needs, focusing resources on the nation's most important goods movement corridors. Rather than drawing resources from the Highway Trust Fund, much of the funding would come from additional user fees paid by those modes of transportation that would benefit from projects funded through a competitive process administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Furthermore, the bill would distribute the revenue collected from the fees according to each mode's financial contribution to the program. (Michael McDonald)
CHINA WTO BRANDS DOUBLE DUTIES AGAINST CHINESE PRODUCTS ILLEGAL
The World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body issued a ruling March 11 that said that the imposition of both anti-dumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) measures on imports from non-market economies like China was illegal under international trade rules. The case involves U.S. antidumping (AD) and countervailing (CV) duty proceedings against U.S. imports of Chinese laminated woven sacks, certain off-the-road tires, circular welded carbon quality steel pipe and light-walled rectangular pipe and tube. The WTO Appellate Body found that the imposition of duties in both the AD and CVD cases essentially amounted to punishing the same alleged infraction twice. The ruling, which is final, calls into question what has been the cornerstone of U.S. trade remedy law over the last four years, jeopardizing U.S. government decisions in over 20 cases involving China alone. Further, coming into compliance with the ruling could require statutory changes by a Congress that has vowed to "protect" U.S. trade remedy law under any circumstances. If the United States fails to come into compliance, China would not only be authorized to retaliate against U.S. goods bound for China, the fastest growing market for U.S. exports, but failure to comply would also put in jeopardy a slew of U.S. WTO cases against China. The U.S. government, which called the decision "a clear case of overreaching by the Appellate Body" is still reviewing the ruling. (Nate Herman)
PRODUCT SAFETY CPSC ANNOUNCES RECALL OF CHILDREN'S DRESSES AND TODDLER'S JEANS DUE TO CHOKING HAZARD
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in cooperation with Matilda Jane LLC, announced on March 15 the voluntary recall of 1,500 girl's dresses. The dresses were recalled because the buttons could fall off posing a choking hazard. Matilda Jane received one incident report but no reports of injuries. In addition, the CPSC and Parigi Group, Ltd. announced March 16 the voluntary recall of 1,600 pairs of "Baby Phat" branded jeans. The jeans were recalled because the decorative rhinestones and sequins on the jeans' pockets can pose a choking hazard to young children. No incidents or injuries were reported involving the jeans. (Rebecca Mond)
PRODUCT SAFETY HEALTH CANADA ISSUES RECALL OF MEN'S AND WOMEN'S JACKETS
Heath Canada on March 16 issued the voluntary recall of men's Sherpa lined corduroy jackets, women's zip of fleece hoodies and women's surplus wrap jackets. The jackets failed to meet textile flammability requirements under Canadian law. No incidents or injuries were reported relating to the jackets. The jackets were imported by New Live of Los Angeles, CA and distributed by Group of 3 Apparel of Montreal, Canada. (Rebecca Mond)
RETAIL PRICES FOR APPAREL & FOOTWEAR SLIP IN FEBRUARY
According to the US Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics March 17 release of the February Consumer Price Index (CPI), retail prices for apparel and footwear rose in response to surging raw materials costs and other price pressures. Seasonally-adjusted retail prices for all types of apparel fell 0.9 percent in February. Prices fell across the board, with prices declining in February for infants' and toddlers' apparel (-1.6 percent), women and girls' apparel (-1.2 percent) and men's and boys' apparel (-0.9 percent). Overall footwear prices fell (-0.4 percent) in February from the previous month, as lower prices for women's footwear (-0.7 percent) outweighed unchanged prices for men's footwear and an increase in prices for juvenile footwear (+0.3 percent). Overall prices for apparel (-0.4 percent) and footwear (-0.7 percent) also slipped in February from February 2010. Lower February prices (versus February 2010) for women's and girls' apparel (-1.6 percent), men's and boys' apparel (-0.3 percent), infants' and toddlers' apparel (-3.7 percent) and women's footwear (-2.5 percent) more than offset price increases for juvenile footwear (+0.8 percent) and men's footwear (+0.9 percent). Stoking inflation fears, overall retail prices increased by 0.5 percent in February on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Overall retail prices also increased on year-on-year terms, up by 2.2 percent from February 2010. (Nate Herman)
APPAREL/FOOTWEAR SALES RISE IN FEBRUARY
According to the US Census Bureau's March 11 release of February Advanced Monthly Sales, seasonally adjusted retail sales at U.S. clothing and clothing accessories stores, including shoe stores, rose 0.8 in February from the previous month, and increased 3.8 percent over February 2010 sales. February seasonally adjusted retail sales at U.S. department stores rose a modest 1.0 percent over January, but sales remained 1.9 percent lower than in February 2010. February seasonally adjusted retail sales at all U.S. general merchandise stores (which includes discount stores like Kohl's, Target and Wal-Mart as well as regular department stores) increased 0.7 percent from January with sales growing 2.6 percent over February 2010 levels. Overall retail sales increased 1.0 percent in February, and were and whopping 8.9 percent higher than in February 2010. (Nate Herman)
1099 Repeal Awaits Further Action Contact Congress Today!
Congress left Washington last week for their week-long recess without taking further action on 1099 repeal. While both the House and Senate have separately passed legislation to remove the provision, found as part of last year's health care reform bill, Republicans and Democrats have yet to agree how to pass the measure in a form that can reach the President's desk. It is time Congress stop playing politics and pass a 1099 repeal that can become law. Please follow this link to contact your representatives in the House and Senate TODAY to urge Congress to repeal the 1099 provision immediately!
UNCLE SAM WANTS YOU...TO COMMENT!
Congress and many government agencies are soliciting comments on a range of issues that may affect your business. For a list of upcoming comments, please click here.
AAFA THANKS 2011 SUMMIT PLATINUM SPONSOR: Agion Techonologies
Agion® for footwear and Agion Active™ for apparel deliver outstanding performance for odor elimination on textiles. See what consumers say about Agion performance at www.stinkatnothing.com.
AAFA THANKS 2011 SUMMIT PLATINUM SPONSOR: SGS Consumer Testing Services
SGS Consumer Testing Services is a division of the SGS Group, which is the world's leading verification, testing and certification company. For more information about SGS Consumer Testing Services, visit www.us.sgs.com/cts.
New Armed Services Chair is Ready to be Heard
from The New York Times
When the House Armed Services Committee convened on Wednesday, it heard from the commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the most recognized military officer in America. Sitting opposite him was the new Republican committee chairman, Representative Howard P. McKeon, who is all but unknown outside his California district. More
Opinion: What the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire Means to Workers Now
from The Washington Post
A century ago this week, in Lower Manhattan, a young social worker named Frances Perkins was having tea at the Greenwich Village townhouse of her friend, the socialite Margaret Morgan Norrie. They were interrupted by clanging fire truck bells. Then they heard the anguished screams: "Don't jump!" More
New Options for Duty-Free Apparel Imports on the Horizon
The new Congress is breathing life into three U.S. trade agreements that have been gathering dust. Congressional action is more likely this year on the U.S.-Korea, U.S.-Colombia and U.S.-Panama free trade agreements than it has been in quite a while. More
Thompson: ANCs Should Be Held to Same 8(a) Standard
from Roll Call
Given the current economic climate, participation in the Small Business Administration 8(a) small and disadvantaged business program can be the difference between success and failure for small, struggling businesses in communities all across America. More