Blog: Leonie BarrieTrump administration starts to shake up trade

Leonie Barrie | 23 January 2017

Last week we marked the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States by taking a closer look at what's at stake for the textile and apparel trade – especially his promises to tear up US trade agreements, impose tariffs on imports from China and Mexico, and bring back US jobs and manufacturing.

One of the first battlegrounds of the new Trump administration is shaping up to be a possible revamp of the US tax system with an alternative proposal that threatens US apparel importers and their suppliers. The measure creates uncertainty for multi-national brands from a tax and foreign-exchange perspective, while consumers would face significant cost inflation.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the UK’s Prime Minister Theresa May has outlined her government's Brexit strategy. Ending months of speculation over whether or not the UK would pursue a "hard Brexit," she said the aim is for Britain to leave the European single market. She also warned: "No deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain."

Meanwhile, Cambodia's textile and apparel export sector could face both short and long-term risks as a result of the UK leaving the EU, while the country's recent rise to lower-middle income status could add to its challenges, the International Labor Organization (ILO) warned.

Two separate pieces of research are calling for a new approach to the garment factory auditing process, claiming that not only is there a need for more meaningful auditing that goes beyond ensuring basic compliances, but also that their current checklist approach has contributed to the problem of poor working conditions in many manufacturing hubs.

Nordic fashion brands including H&M, KappAhl, Lindex have also been criticised for not doing enough to help tackle the abuse of Syrian refugees in Turkish garment factories.

And executives in Pakistan's clothing industry have told just-style that a new government assistance package to boost the country's clothing exports is to be welcomed – but must be implemented quickly.

In Europe, a new initiative has plans to digitalise the fashion supply chains of at least 100 companies to improve product traceability, time to market, warehouse management and data exchange.

Retail's 'Big Show', the National Retail Federation's Annual Convention & Expo, which took place in New York last week, focuses on the latest technologies for improving everything from customer analysis to inventory management.We have highlighted some of the latest launches and developments – as well as taking a closer look at how retailers can better engage with customers both online and in-store.

And a new $253m national initiative has been launched in the US to develop next-generation robots for advanced manufacturing across a number of industries, including textiles.

In other news, US outdoor clothing brand Patagonia is launching an e-commerce platform to resell its clothing online; JC Penney is to roll out hundreds of Nike "shops" across its stores; and Limited Stores has filed for bankruptcy protection amid a buy-out deal.

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