Blog: Beth WrightUS and China follow through on tariff threat

Beth Wright | 2 September 2019

The US and China have both gone ahead with threats to impose new levies on another tranche of imports – with the US move meaning around US$31bn in textile, apparel and home textile products from China are now subject to an additional tariff of 15%. 

The tariffs, which kicked in yesterday (1 September), result in a direct tax on 92% of all apparel products and 53% of all footwear items imported from China. Writing on just-style Rick Helfenbein, president and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), explains the industry's concern at the likely impact of this tariff manoeuvring, both now and into the future.

Ahead of the increase, more than 200 US footwear companies, including industry heavyweights Adidas, Nike, Clarks and Puma, urged the President to cancel the proposed rise – but to no avail.

We've also taken an updated look at the products on the hit-list.

Meanwhile, world textile and apparel trade last year saw its fastest growth since 2012. Key trends to watch are Vietnam's continuing momentum in textile exports, China's leading role as a fabric supplier across Asia, and the changing world order in apparel consumption.

Elsewhere, Chinese industrialists from Kunshan city, a major clothing manufacturing centre in southeastern Jiangsu province, are eyeing potential investments in Ethiopia's Dire Dawa Industrial Park, China's ambassador to Ethiopia has told just-style.

And global fashion firms have been stepping up their efforts to tackle water use and management in the countries where their clothes are made. But with population growth and climate change set to make water an even scarcer resource, transforming the industry's approach to water is key to safeguarding its future.

Keeping with sustainability, value fashion chain Primark is preparing for a five-fold increase in the number of farmers enrolled in its Sustainable Cotton Programme by the end of 2022, including expanding the initiative to China for the first time.

While Future Group, Aditya Birla Retail and Arvind Brands are among 16 of India's top apparel firms that have committed to use more sustainable raw materials and processes by 2025.

And the Better Buying initiative is piloting a new process to help convert supplier ratings on brand and retailer purchasing practices into concrete actions and more sustainable business partnerships with measurable impacts.

However, a number of fashion brands are reviewing their stance on sourcing from Myanmar after a report from the United Nations earlier this month urged brands to cut ties with suppliers linked to the country's military.

In retail, Canadian retailer Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) has inked a deal to sell its Lord & Taylor banner for US$100m to fashion rental subscription service startup Le Tote.

And as CPD-infused products such as skin creams, tinctures, edibles and beverages offering anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety benefits are all the rage right now – it was only a matter of time before they cropped up in clothing.

Meanwhile, in other news, a new virtual reality (VR) training programme is to help cotton farmers learn best practices in sustainable cotton production strategies; Gap will retain its name following the planned spin-off of Old Navy; and trade unions in Sri Lanka have called for the withdrawal of unified employment law that is being proposed by the government.

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