The results of five surveys conducted for the USFIA seminar, revealed that shipping delays, supply chain disruptions, increasing logistics costs, and managing risks from forced labour in supply chains such as in China’s Xinjiang region, were the most pressing problems for the industry today. 

The results, which were announced in time for the virtual seminar that took place on Wednesday 3 February, revealed that all respondents (100%) are concerned about managing risks from forced labour in apparel supply chains, while half are concerned about shipping delays and supply chain disruptions and half are concerned about increased logistics costs and delays in the supply chain.

The surveys also revealed that 75% of respondents had shipments detained due to the withhold release orders on China’s cotton, 75% also had to shift sourcing while 50% hired tracking and technology support to overcome the issues.

The seminar itself focused on the latest updates on US Customs and Border Protection, policy and politics and supply chain disruptions to tackle the issues presented in the surveys.

The seminar covered compliance, logistics, sourcing, supply chain management, government relations, and corporate social responsibility.

The session was opened by USFIA president Julia K. Hughes, and during the opening session, USFIA Washington Counsel David Spooner focused on two major issues for 2022: the fate of the China Section 301 tariffs and the impact of the newly passed Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA).  

Key presentations included: 

  • A keynote by the Office of Trade Remedy Law Enforcement Directorate Acting Executive Director Eric Choy from U.S. Customs and Border Protection 
  • An update on policy and politics for the fashion industry from David Spooner, USFIA Washington Counsel, and John Pellegrini, USFIA Customs Consultant 
  • A supply chain update from Dr. Noel Hacegaba, Deputy Executive Director and COO for the Port of Long Beach. 

Overview of policy and politics for Fashion Forward in 2022 

In a discussion facilitated by Senior Managing Director Maytee Pereira, PwC’s Scott McCandless and Belinda Rowsell addressed the importance of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) considerations beyond the social responsibility perspective and how all departments in your company can contribute to build the right narrative. 

Talking about one of the biggest issues for brands and retailers, Dr. Noel Hacegaba discussed improvements at the Port of Long Beach to alleviate dwell time – including increasing hours – some of the challenges they are still facing, and plans for ongoing improvements.  

While, Mark Messura and Janet Ydavoy highlighted specific examples developed by Cotton Incorporated to show how tariff engineering can lower production costs with a few design changes. 

Executive Director of CBP’s Trade Remedy Law Enforcement Directorate, Eric Choy, took a session about CBP’s forced labour enforcement, provided insight into its enforcement experience, and discussed the issues he thinks the industry will be facing in 2022, including the UFLPA.  

During an off the record session, the Apparel, Footwear, and Textiles Center for Excellence and Expertise also talked about their priorities for 2022 and how importers can help facilitate faster investigations.