Blog: Beth WrightTrump moves forward on tariff threats

Beth Wright | 20 May 2019

The ongoing tariff war between the US and China took another turn last week in a move US apparel and footwear retailers and importers have been dreading, as the Trump administration moved forward on threats to impose a 25% tariff on nearly all Chinese exports to the United States.

As the trade war heats up, companies looking for ways to avoid or mitigate the potential additional tariffs could turn to co-production.

Since President Donald Trump took office in January 2017, his administration has been busy fulfilling major campaign promises on trade policy – much to the concern of US fashion brands and apparel retailers. To keep abreast of developments, Dr Sheng Lu, associate professor in the Department of Fashion and Apparel Studies at the University of Delaware, has compiled a timeline of all the key milestones so far.

With the US retail industry mulling the wider consequences of the US trade war with China, amid its annual lull between major shopping seasons and getting back up to speed following factory shutdowns for the Lunar New Year, apparel imports plunged during March – fuelled by a double-digit decline in shipment volumes from the country's largest supplier, China. 

Meanwhile, a coalition of apparel industry trade organisations is calling on European Union policymakers to establish a circular fashion system, adding current tools to scale change are "inadequate."

The move came ahead of the tenth Copenhagen Fashion Summit which also saw the launch of a new interactive learning toolkit to explore how current trends – from climate change to nationalism and AI – could shape fashion in 2030.

Meanwhile, US sporting goods giant Nike unveiled a new Circular Design Workbook to provide designers and product creators across the apparel industry with a common language for circularity. 

The release follows a new report exploring the financial viability of circular business models in the fashion industry that found they could drive a higher margin per garment compared to the current linear 'take-make-waste' process.

Elsewhere, tech giant Google has revealed plans to partner with British luxury fashion brand Stella McCartney on a pilot project that aims to use supply chain data to measure the environmental impact of the fashion industry.

And Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger owner, PVH Corp, has set out a new Forward Fashion corporate responsibility strategy to accelerate its sustainability efforts.

Japan's Fast Retailing has moved to increase its transparency efforts, disclosing all the garment factories supplying its Theory, PLST and other brand factories as well as Uniqlo and GU.

In other news, Kering has published new Animal Welfare Standards; the Sustainable Apparel Coalition is spinning-off of a new for-profit unit; and the winners of the Texprocess Innovation Awards 2019 are named.

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