Blog: Leonie BarrieTrump trade war may hit garment prices

Leonie Barrie | 30 July 2018

With US president Donald Trump now threatening to impose tariffs on all US$500bn of goods imported from China, the upcoming trade war will undoubtedly hit garments. But replacing China means replacing around 42% of all US apparel imports – and is likely to have an inflationary impact on FOB prices.

The Trump administration has also sought to buy votes and silence farmers by offering them $12bn to stop complaining about lost business due to tariffs. But while those in the US apparel and footwear industry can empathise with their predicament, the difference is that the US government won't bail us out, writes Rick Helfenbein, AAFA president and CEO.

The American apparel and footwear sector has, however, welcomed news that the US and the European Union are to hold talks to "work toward zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsidies" in a bid to strengthen the trade relationship between the two regions.

But the European Commission has warned of disruption to supply chains whether or not a deal is reached on the UK's withdrawal from the EU – amid mounting concerns of a deadlock in the Brexit talks with just three months to go before a provisional October deadline.

To tie in with the launch of re:source, the new online strategic planning tool from the team behind just-style, we have published the first in a monthly round-up of updates to key free trade agreements and trade preference programmes involving the US, EU and Japan.

Despite ongoing fears of an escalation in trade conflict between the US and China, the latest data shows demand for quality inspection and supplier audits in the manufacturing giant are still on the rise. What is also apparent is that China's factories are lagging behind the rest of Asia in terms of environmental compliance.

New guidance has also been released to help companies include more people with disabilities in global supply chains. Employing people with disabilities brings benefits including access to untapped talent, enhanced productivity, loyalty and reliability.

The importance of digital technologies in retail, footwear and apparel product development continues to grow each year – but few companies have yet figured out how to unlock its true value. The biggest advances remain in 3D digital product creation and advanced analytics.

And a new $50m denim mill that will produce yarns and fabrics for the North American market with a focus on sustainability and innovative technology is preparing to ramp up its operations ahead of full commercial production at the beginning of next year.

just-style's 2018 'Global market review of lingerie – forecasts to 2023' is the first to use data from re:source. Here we take a look at the global sourcing position, growing and declining exporter countries, the global market position, and growing and declining markets.

Meanwhile in other news, Lululemon has tapped a former Sears Canada boss as its new CEO; Cotton Incorporated has launched an anti-wrinkle and formaldehyde-free technology that gives a durable press finish on cotton fabrics; and knitwear giant Cobalt Fashion Holding has opened an innovation lab at its headquarters in Hong Kong.

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