A cohort of apparel retail brands, suppliers and main street businesses have joined forces to launch a coalition aimed at educating policymakers and the public on the importance of the US global value chain and its impact on jobs and economic growth.
The US Global Value Chain Coalition has been formed by the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), National Retail Federation (NRF), Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and US Fashion Industry Association (USFIA). VF Corporation, Target Corp, SanMar Corporation, Precision Custom Coatings, and Levi Strauss & Co are also participating.
Retail global value chains are highly sophisticated, employing millions of Americans through the production of goods and provision of services, distribution, and sales. The Coalition says it will advocate, educate, conduct research, and engage on policies that support US employees and their families through US global value chains. This will be achieved through meetings with officials in Congress.
“In today’s global economy, it is essential that policies in Washington support the modern supply chain,” says Rick Helfenbein, president and CEO of AAFA. “While 98% of the clothes and shoes sold in the US are imported, it is important to note that our industry provides nearly four million American jobs throughout the supply chain. By developing policies that open new markets and remove trade barriers, we can be more competitive, supply more good-paying jobs to American workers, and provide greater value for American consumers.”
A global value chain study for the apparel industry, published as part of the Coalition launch and based on 2016 data, found that the US value-added found in the initial study of 70.3% of the retail price has likely increased since 2011. The new data and surveys suggest conservatively that the new value-added rose several percentage points, perhaps even above 75%. According to the report, the total value-added by these US workers far exceeds the value-added overseas in manufacturing activities even when the yarn and/or fabric is acquired abroad. Moreover, the level of US value added varies little regardless of the kind of apparel product or the company involved.
The Coalition believes that making use of the global marketplace for the 98% of the apparel sold in the US enables American companies to offer consumers the widest variety of apparel at the best prices while supporting millions of medium- to high skilled jobs. The research also shows that tariffs routinely applied to apparel imports are among the highest levied on any industry, and can result in higher prices for consumers.
“This report tells us what the fashion industry already knows-that the majority of fashion and retail jobs in the United States are made possible by global trade,” says Julia Hughes, president of USFIA. “We hope policymakers in Washington will take a look at this evidence of the need for agreements and policies that expand free trade, not stymie it.”
In addition to the launch, the Coalition partnered with Moongate Associates, an international consulting firm that focuses on the formulation and analysis of international trade policy, to release new research showcasing the fact that millions of American jobs rely on the US global value chain and contribute to the American economy.
“Global value chains are a critical component to businesses success,” Jonathan Gold, vice president for supply chain and customs policy for NRF added. “The retail industry alone has millions of US jobs from sourcing and logistics to finance and compliance that are part of a global value chain that is essential to providing high quality, affordable products to American consumers. In order to achieve that goal and remain competitive, we need policies that recognise the importance of the global value chain to the US economy, workers and consumers.”