• DATVF.ATLPHL
    1.814
    0.044
    2.5%
  • DATVF.CHIATL
    2.034
    0.018
    0.9%
  • DATVF.DALLAX
    0.921
    0.071
    8.4%
  • DATVF.LAXDAL
    1.502
    -0.092
    -5.8%
  • DATVF.SEALAX
    0.962
    -0.053
    -5.2%
  • DATVF.PHLCHI
    1.091
    -0.038
    -3.4%
  • DATVF.LAXSEA
    2.146
    -0.004
    -0.2%
  • DATVF.VEU
    1.647
    0.009
    0.5%
  • DATVF.VNU
    1.471
    -0.010
    -0.7%
  • DATVF.VSU
    1.211
    -0.011
    -0.9%
  • DATVF.VWU
    1.554
    -0.028
    -1.8%
  • ITVI.USA
    9,689.350
    14.490
    0.1%
  • OTRI.USA
    7.650
    -0.020
    -0.3%
  • OTVI.USA
    9,678.010
    13.740
    0.1%
  • TLT.USA
    2.730
    0.000
    0%
  • WAIT.USA
    156.000
    -2.000
    -1.3%
  • DATVF.ATLPHL
    1.814
    0.044
    2.5%
  • DATVF.CHIATL
    2.034
    0.018
    0.9%
  • DATVF.DALLAX
    0.921
    0.071
    8.4%
  • DATVF.LAXDAL
    1.502
    -0.092
    -5.8%
  • DATVF.SEALAX
    0.962
    -0.053
    -5.2%
  • DATVF.PHLCHI
    1.091
    -0.038
    -3.4%
  • DATVF.LAXSEA
    2.146
    -0.004
    -0.2%
  • DATVF.VEU
    1.647
    0.009
    0.5%
  • DATVF.VNU
    1.471
    -0.010
    -0.7%
  • DATVF.VSU
    1.211
    -0.011
    -0.9%
  • DATVF.VWU
    1.554
    -0.028
    -1.8%
  • ITVI.USA
    9,689.350
    14.490
    0.1%
  • OTRI.USA
    7.650
    -0.020
    -0.3%
  • OTVI.USA
    9,678.010
    13.740
    0.1%
  • TLT.USA
    2.730
    0.000
    0%
  • WAIT.USA
    156.000
    -2.000
    -1.3%
American ShipperShippingTrade and Compliance

Commentary: Apparel industry in knots over NAFTA renegotiation

“The NAFTA renegotiation is a disaster,” said longtime Washington trade attorney Jon Fee to attendees at the Apparel Importers Trade and Transportation Conference in New York this week, “I think trade policy is spiraling into darkness.”

   Members of the retail apparel and textile industries are joining the growing chorus of voices speaking up against the potential U.S. withdrawal from – or substantial alteration to – the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
   “The NAFTA renegotiation is a disaster,” said longtime Washington trade attorney Jon Fee to attendees at the Apparel Importers Trade and Transportation Conference in New York this week. “I think trade policy is spiraling into darkness.”
   Fee’s remarks during a conference panel captured the sentiment of many apparel importers and transportation services providers who attended this year’s event, especially as the fifth round of NAFTA renegotiations get underway in Mexico City this week.
   Fee noted that the U.S. demands, such as heightened U.S. content requirements in NAFTA-qualifying products, in addition to Trump’s continued threats to leave the 23-year-old agreement, add to the possibility that the United States, Mexico and Canada could ultimately part ways as a trade trio.
   In a separate conference panel, Julia Hughes, president of the U.S. Fashion Industry Association, also worried that the United States will resist making concessions, forcing Mexico and Canada to withdraw from the negotiating table. “So far, the U.S. says ‘here’s our proposals—take them,’” she said.
   “Trump has not spelled out a trade policy,” she said. “His focus is on trade deficits and on manufacturing rather than the whole value chain that creates many U.S. jobs.”
   In a rare moment of agreement with the pro-trade U.S. Fashion Industry Association, Augustine “Auggie” Tantillo, president of the National Council of Textile Organizations, who generally supports Trump’s aim to improve the United States’ position in NAFTA, acknowledged that “there is no predictability” from the administration as it attempts to renegotiate the trade agreement.
   “People are confused about the direction…Washington has been turned on its head,” he said. “To a degree, I can appreciate [the president’s resolve] to ask why we are doing certain things. But the confusion has reached epic levels.”
   The apparel and textile industry is also worried that congressional leadership itself will not be able to push back on Trump’s trade protectionist stance to salvage NAFTA.
   “Historically, the Republican leadership has been supportive of free trade, but now they’re just not responding,” Fee said. “My concern is that the Republican leadership won’t stop the president on NAFTA.”
   David Spooner, Washington counsel for the U.S. Fashion Industry Association and former chief textile and apparel trade negotiator within the Office of U.S. Trade Representative during 2002-2006, agreed.
   “The president has taken away the cover for Republicans to be pro-trade,” he said.

Show More

Chris Gillis

Located in the Washington, D.C. area, Chris Gillis primarily reports on regulatory and legislative topics that impact cross-border trade. He joined American Shipper in 1994, shortly after graduating from Mount St. Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, Md., with a degree in international business and economics.
Close