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AAFA Newsbreaker
March 31, 2009
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In this issue...
Legislative, Trade & Regulatory News
  • Affordable Footwear Act Re-Introduced in the Senate
  • Specter to Oppose Card Check; UNITE Loses Case Against Employees
  • CPSIA Product Safety Update - Durbin Letter, April 1 Rally, Tracking Labels, Phthalates
  • China Increases VAT Export Rebate for Apparel
  • Transportation Secretary Expects Return of Expired Mexican Truck Program
  • Gary Locke Confirmed as Commerce Secretary
  • Obama Supports Pakistan Trade Preferences
  • AAFA Signs On to Multi-Association Effort to Preserve Foreign Income Tax Deferral
  • CPSC Issues Five Recalls for Drawstrings
  • Products Containing Dimethylfumarate (DMF) Banned in Europe
  • FTC Issues New Generic Classification Under Textile Fiber Production Identification Act
  • WTO Sees 9 Percent in Global Trade Due to Global Economic Downturn
  • New ANSI Textile Standard Published
    AAFA Member News
  • Tawil Associates Inc. Joins AAFA
    In the Press
  • Union Billís Declining Chances Give Rise to Alternatives
  • Opinion: The Flaw in Card Check
  • Pelosiís Library Quarantine
  • DHS Signals Policy Changes for Immigration Raids
  • Cap and Trade War
  • Legislative, Trade & Regulatory News

    Senators John Ensign (R-NV) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) were joined by eight other Senators in re-introducing the Affordable Footwear Act (S.730) on March 26. The legislation would eliminate the import duties on lower-priced footwear, childrenís shoes and other high-duty footwear, or the duties on approximately 60 percent of all US footwear imports. Thanks to the efforts of many AAFA members, AAFA staff and the other members of the Affordable Footwear Act coalition over the last two years, Congressional leadership and many other important members of Congress are already very familiar with the legislation. By the end of the last Congress, the legislation had support from one-third of the entire Congress. That base should translate into positive momentum towards passage sometime late this year. We Need Your Help! Congressional passage is not possible without you, the constituents, reaching out to your members of Congress and urging them to support the Affordable Footwear Act. To learn more, or to find out how you can help, please go to the coalition website at or contact AAFAís Nate Herman at 703.797.9062.

    Bowing to mounting public and political pressure, Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) announced March 24 that he would not support the card check bill, also known as the Employee Free Choice Act. Specter was the only Senate Republican to vote in favor of the legislation in the previous Congress. Specter's announcement comes at a crucial time, as supporters for the measure are scrambling to obtain the sixty votes needed to move the bill to the President's desk for his signature. Without Specter, the bill faces uncertain prospects, even if Democrats capture the outstanding Minnesota Senate seat, where comedian Al Franken (D) has a 200-vote lead over incumbent Senator Norm Coleman (R). The legislation would enable unions to avoid workplace elections by requiring only that a majority of workers sign a card to unionize a workplace. Further, the legislation would require binding arbitration, arbitrated by a government employee, if an employer and the new union cannot reach a contract within 120 days. While Specter's announcement augurs well for those interested in protecting workplace democracy, AAFA encourages member companies to continue to voice their strong opposition to the measure by writing to their members of Congress to urge them to vote against the legislation when it is considered later this year.

    Unions have said that a card check system is needed to help combat intimidation from employers, while denying that unions are themselves the source of unethical tactics. The US Supreme Court apparently disagreed when, last week, it delivered a strong victory to a group of employees at Cintas Corporation, who sued the former Union of Needletrades, Industrial & Textile Employees (UNITE) over privacy rights violations against Cintas employees during an organizing drive at Cintas in 2004. (Kurt Courtney)

    Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL) sent a letter March 27 to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) criticizing acting Chairwoman Nancy Nord for letting personal views slow the implementation of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). Senator Durbin also accused Nord of resisting the push to modernize the agency. The letter represents another chapter in a long dialogue between Congress and the CPSC regarding the CPSIA. Last month, House and Senate Democrats called on President Obama to appoint a new CPSC commissioner, however there have been no moves yet to fill the position. In an attempt to push Congress forward on addressing the many legitimate concerns with the implementation of the CPSIA, concerned businesses and citizens will hold an AAFA-supported rally tomorrow (Wednesday, April 1) on Capitol Hill. For more information on the rally or to watch the rally live online, go to the rally website at

    Meanwhile, AAFA submitted a letter to the CPSC March 26 requesting a year long delay of enforcement of the tracking label requirement. The lack of guidance from the CPSC to date on the form, content and style of the tracking label, less than five months out from its August 14 implementation date, has created a lot of confusion and has led many retailers to start developing and requiring their own tracking labels. The stay would allow the CPSC to promulgate regulations in a timely manner and ensure that AAFA members and others would not be subject to multiple, and contradictory, tracking label requirements. AAFA's letter supplements an AAFA-supported multi-industry letter to the CPSC sent March 24 requesting a stay.

    Finally, the CPSC recently issued a letter stating that most travel goods (as defined in Heading 4202 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS)) do not fall under the definition of "children's toys" and, therefore, are not subject to the phthalate ban under the CPSIA. The CPSC is still considering whether food and beverage containers should be covered by the "childcare articles" definition under the phthalate ban. The letter came in response to an AAFA-supported request for the travel goods exemption from the phthalate ban. AAFA plans to submit its own comments to the CPSC shortly on the application of the phthalate ban to apparel and footwear, including baby bibs and pajamas. (Rebecca Mond)

    China's Ministry of Finance and State Administration of Taxation on March 30 formally issued details of the Value-Added Tax (VAT) export rebate rate changes that become effective April 1, 2009. The VAT export rebate rate for apparel and most textiles will rise from 14 to 16 percent. The rate for leather will rise from 11 to 13 percent. The VAT export rebate for footwear, however, will remain unchanged at 13 percent. (Nate Herman)

    Product Showcase:
    STR Apparel & Footwear Testing

    Substantiating the quality, safety and responsible sourcing of apparel and footwear. STR delivers comprehensive services for the apparel & footwear industry including physical, chemical, biomechanical and field testing, flammability, fiber content, colorfastness, dimensional stability, strength, performance, construction, aging, care label verification, and fiber identification and analysis. Our responsible sourcing audits and training services are internationally recognized and offer a thorough and objective analysis of labor conditions at factories. Starting right at the source, we work with our clients to secure quality, conformity and social responsibility of products at every stage of manufacture. More info

    Last week, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood met with lawmakers to discuss implementing a quick re-instatement of an expired pilot program that allowed Mexican trucks access to US highways. His statement comes after Mexico imposed tariffs on US exports to Mexico in retaliation for Congress terminating the pilot truck program. Initiated by the Bush administration, the program ended under the Fiscal 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Act signed into law earlier this month. Opponents of the program in Congress cite subpar background checks, environmental concerns and road safety issues as problems with the program. Yet, Mexican trucks have not been involved in any more collisions or accidents than the norm for American trucks. (Kurt Courtney)

    The US Senate confirmed former Washington State Governor Gary Locke as US Secretary of Commerce by voice vote on March 24. (Nate Herman)

    President Barack Obama expressed strong support for trade preferences for the Afghan/Pakistan border region in announcing his new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan on March 27. Obama specifically mentioned legislation sponsored by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) that would create so-called Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) along in the border region. US imports from those regions would enter the United States duty-free under very flexible rules of origin. As currently drafted, however, the legislation would NOT provide benefits to most apparel produced in the affected region. While AAFA supports the concept of the legislation, AAFA continues to push Congress and the Obama administration to include apparel, or at least the apparel items where Pakistan is competitive. (Nate Herman)

    AAFA and 200 other companies and trade associations sent a letter March 24 to Congressional leaders expressing opposition to a proposal by President Barack Obama that would repeal a law that permits companies to indefinitely defer tax on foreign earnings until the money is brought back to the United States. "Together, we provide millions of high-paying American jobs that depend on our ability to compete in the global economy," states the letter. "Unfortunately, the administration's proposal to repeal 'deferral' would impose a unilateral tax on the foreign earnings of American companies, upsetting the competitive balance between US and foreign companies. This will result in a loss of jobs for Americans and serious negative impacts on the US economy." Prospects for further action on this measure, including the timing or manner of its consideration, remain unclear. (Steve Lamar)

    The Consumer Product Safety Commission on May 25 issued recalls for five different children's clothing items. All items were hooded jackets or sweatshirts with drawstrings. The CPSC issued the recalls due to the strangulation hazard posed by these drawstrings. There have been no injuries or deaths associated with these recalls. So far this year there have been nine recalls by the CPSC due to the danger posed by drawstrings to children (Rebecca Mond)

    Beginning May 1, products may not be sold in Europe if that product, or a part of the product, contains dimethylfumarate (DMF) (CAS No. 624-49-7), a biocide sometimes used in footwear packaging to prevent mold. The new ban applies if the presence of DMF is declared, such as on one or more pouches, or if the concentration of DMF is greater than 0.1 mg/kg of the weight of the product or part of the product. The ban remains in effect until March 15, 2010, although informed sources believe it will be renewed before that date. Several individual European countries had already imposed similar bans. (Steve Lamar)

    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a new regulation March 26 under the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act, establishing a new classification of generic fibers. This classification further defines the term "polyester," creating a subclass for those materials containing poly (trimethylene terephtlhalate). This subclass is named "triexta." (Rebecca Mond)

    Global trade will decline 9 percent this year due to a collapse in global demand brought on by the global economic downturn, according to a World Trade Organization (WTO) report issued March 23. The WTO report predicted that the global economic recession could lead to the biggest contraction in trade volume since World War II. This contraction has triggered substantial loss in trade related jobs and spurred the use of protectionist measures. The WTO sees this week's G20 summit as an opportunity for world leaders to advocate for trade as a tool to lift the economy back up and stem the tide of protectionism. (Nate Herman)

    The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has published a new standard titled Textiles -- Knitted fabrics -- Representation and pattern design. The standard and other information can be found at on the ANSI website. (Nate Herman)

    The law firm of Steptoe & Johnson LLP invites you to subscribe to our free newsletters: Customs Law Advisory, Apparel Industry Alert, and Upcoming Events. These periodic newsletters provide legal insight that may be crucial to your business. Subscribe today

    AAFA Member News

    Tawil Associates Inc.
    The MayFair Company
    Edward Tawil, President
    112 West 34th Street, 20th Floor
    New York, NY 10120
    Phone: 212.279.3211

    Tawil Associates Inc. is a leading childrenwear importer. The companyís portfolio consists of brands such as Mayfair, Absorba and Juicy Couture Baby.

    In the Press

    Union Billís Declining Chances Give Rise to Alternatives
    from The Washington Post
    With the prospects for a landmark pro-union proposal looking increasingly shaky in Congress, senators in both parties are seeking other ways to reform labor laws, potentially reshaping what many expected to be a defining showdown of Barack Obama's presidency. More

    Opinion: The Flaw in Card Check
    from The Los Angeles Times
    Although we sympathize with the bill's efforts to address the balance of power between unions and management, we do not support it as written. Unions should be free to exercise their power on behalf of workers, but only after workers have designated them as their representatives in a process that reduces the possibility of intimidation from either side. More

    Lectra, the #1 technology provider to the fashion industry offers complete, integrated solutions that automate, streamline, and accelerate product design, development, and manufacturing. Lectra Fashion PLM allows you to truly manage your collection and product lifecycles. Sharing an integrated fashion platform, the Kaledo suite simplifies the design development process while encouraging creativity.

    Pelosiís Library Quarantine
    from The Wall Street Journal
    It looks like "Jumanji" in local libraries these days, after the classic children's book about chaos unleashed by the failure to heed warnings. In February, an overzealous law governing lead in products resulted in toys going from store shelves to the trash heap. Now, confusion over how the rules affect children's books has led some libraries to rope off kids' sections. More

    DHS Signals Policy Changes for Immigration Raids
    from The Washington Post
    Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has delayed a series of proposed immigration raids and other enforcement actions at U.S. workplaces in recent weeks, asking agents in her department to apply more scrutiny to the selection and investigation of targets as well as the timing of raids, federal officials said. More

    Cap and Trade War
    from The Wall Street Journal
    One of President Obama's applause lines is that his climate tax policies will create new green jobs "that can't be outsourced." But if that's true, why is his main energy adviser floating a new carbon tariff on imports? Welcome to the coming cap and trade war. More

    AAFA Events & Educational Programs

    April 7, 2009
    WEB SEMINAR: Retail & Consumer Trends: Technology & Todayís New Consumer

    April 21-23, 2009
    Material World

    April 22-25, 2009
    Information Systems Committee Spring Meeting

    April 22-25, 2009
    Product Innovation Council/Supply Chain Leadership Committee Meeting

    April 27-29, 2009
    RFID Live 2009

    April 29, 2009
    WEB SEMINAR: Environmental Marketing: Where Sustainability Meets Strategy

    April 30-May 2, 2009
    Financial Management Committee Meeting

    Complete schedule of events

    AAFA Member Partners & Programs

    By AAFA partner,
    Boxwood Technology, Inc.
    Employer and employee
    job services.

    Freight Savings Plan
    By AAFA partner, Siriani & Associates, Inc.
    Save on shipping costs.

    Footwear Testing Services
    By AAFA partner, Intertek
    Expert resource and discount technical testing

    RFID Savings Program
    By AAFA partner, Avery Dennison
    Negotiated below-market priced labels

    XRF Analyzers
    By new AAFA partners,
    Innov-x and Thermo Scientific.
    Identification and quantification of toxic metals in products.

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