Blog: Leonie BarrieElection trade talk

Leonie Barrie | 3 November 2008

With just days to go before the US election, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has promised that if his campaign is successful he will launch a programme to monitor imports of Chinese textiles and apparel once safeguards are removed at the end of this year.

In his most definitive statement on trade, especially as it affects the apparel and textile industry, Obama also pledged to try to end currency manipulation by the Chinese government, preserve the yarn forward rule in free trade agreements, and increase enforcement efforts in unfair trade practices.

His plans were outlined in a letter to a US textile group, and shore up his broader campaign agenda of supporting the American manufacturing sector and saving jobs.

US Trade Representative Susan C Schwab has also stepped into the ongoing debate about Chinese textile subsidies, warning the Chinese government that unless it eliminates certain export subsidies it could face World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute cases being filed in Geneva.  According to calculations by a US textile group, China provides 73 subsidies to its textile industry.

Global sports brand Adidas is on track to generate sales of EUR1bn (US$1.23bn) in China by 2010, as it continues to build on the momentum generated by this summer's Olympic Games in Beijing. Wolfgang Bentheimer, managing director of Adidas Greater China, told just-style the brand's huge investment  on the Games' sponsorship and advertising campaign have finally given it market leadership in China.

UK supermarket giant Tesco is driving harder bargains with its non-food suppliers, and plans to extend credit terms from 30 to 60 days – which means suppliers will now have to wait twice as long for payment. The change is purportedly to help customers battle their way through the credit crunch in the run-up to Christmas, but could also be a ploy to help the retailer overcome fears of a shrinking market share.

Wal-Mart, meanwhile, is set to reduce capital spending by nearly 13% this year as it focuses on remodelling existing stores and growing its international roster of outlets. Capital efficiency and improved return on investment are the watchwords for the US company as it plans its store development during the economic downturn.

Apparel maker Liz Claiborne intends to cut its capital expenditure by half next year, after slashing its fourth quarter earnings projections as consumers in every region continue to cut back on discretionary spending. Speaking at the IAF World Apparel Convention in Maastricht last week, Claiborne's CEO, Bill McComb, said he believed the economic crisis would lead consumers to focus on quality, service and value.



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