AAFA lays out export plan to Commerce
The American Apparel & Footwear Association on Monday offered a 10-point plan to help achieve President Barack Obama’s commitment to double U.S. exports by 2015, the so-called National Export Initiative.
The association submitted comments in response to a call from the U.S. Department of Commerce to make NEI a reality.
“Opening new markets to the free flow of goods and improving current trade flows will allow U.S. companies and their goods to become even more competitive in the global market,” said Kevin M. Burke, AAFA president and chief executive officer. “To achieve this goal, the Obama administration and Congress must work in concert with stakeholders and the public to leverage and maximize every opportunity for growth. We cannot afford to leave any option off the table. Whether improving access to export financing, continuing to open new markets, improving existing trade agreements, or even facilitating imports, every component is critical to realizing the final goal.”
AAFA’s 10-step plan is:
‘ Ensure small and medium-sized enterprises have access to the credit that ‘serves as the lifeblood of their business’ in order for domestic manufacturers to start filling double their current orders.
‘ Urge Congress to pass already negotiated pending trade promotion agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea to give unfettered access to more than 100 million new consumers.
‘ Participate in initiatives like the Trans-Pacific Partnership to open to U.S. goods as many markets as possible.
‘ Ensure current trade agreements are up to date with regard to technological developments, intellectual property protections, and new market opening opportunities
‘ Achieve a successful and ambitious conclusion to the Doha Round of trade negotiations at the World Trade Organization that started in 2001
‘ Push for global adherence to the international rules-based trading system.
‘ Make sure the United States plays by those same rules.
‘ Facilitate the production and sale of U.S. products that are made outside U.S. boundaries — ‘U.S. companies make U.S.-branded products everywhere. They also sell them everywhere, with those products sometimes never coming home before they are purchased by a customer in another country. However, U.S. workers still design, market and sell those products. Further, those earnings still come home.’
‘ Appreciate and support the role that imports play in an export-driven economy.
‘ Setting a goal of doubling exports is great, ‘but thinking and acting within the parameters of simply meeting a goal only limits the possibility of quadrupling our exports.
‘Domestic manufacturers of apparel and footwear products primarily operate under the Berry Amendment (USC, Title 10, Section 2533a), which requires 100 percent sourcing of military uniforms, footwear and other textile-based equipment for the Department of Defense,’ AAFA added. ‘The domestic companies that manufacture these items are often small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) who have little to no commercial business due to the specialty nature of the military items they produce.
AAFA surveyed its domestic manufacturers and found that only a small percentage actually export overseas. Of the companies that do export, less than 5 percent of their total sales resulted from their export business. The types of products exported have included soling materials for footwear, waterproof fabric for footwear, broad nylon fabric, mod-acrylic fabric, coveralls, fire resistant treated cotton knit fabric, fire resistant treated viscose knit fabric and Nomex knitted fabric — inputs that go in to finished products made overseas.
‘Regrettably, despite the fact that these apparel and footwear manufacturers are producing some of the most technologically advanced apparel and footwear in the word, the predominant export in the apparel and footwear industry tends to come from the large suppliers, who ship fabrics overseas for the commercial market, not the end-item manufacturers,’ the association said.
AAFA’s full comment submission can be found on its Web site. ‘ Eric Johnson