Lawmakers introduce HELP for Haiti
The U.S. Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees on Thursday introduced legislation to expand and extend trade benefits available to Haiti as a way to give the Caribbean an economic boost in the aftermath of a recent earthquake.
The legislation, Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act, increases Haiti's duty-free access to the U.S. market for certain Haitian-made apparel and other articles. It also extends until the year 2020 the slated expiration date of the benefits under the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act of 2008 (HOPE II).
The bipartisan bill received praise from both the White House and industry.
'One of the most powerful tools we can use to help Haiti recover and thrive after January's devastating earthquake is to extend trade opportunities that lead to job-creating investment there,' said U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, in a statement.
'Haiti's apparel sector is critical to that country's employment and economic recovery,' said Stephanie Lester, vice president for international trade at the Retail Industry Leaders Association. 'Given the significant challenges in Haiti, the HELP Act will provide much needed incentives to spur private sector investment, economic growth and job creation. America's retailers are committed to assisting Haiti to recover from January's devastating earthquake.'
The HOPE II Act was enacted in 2008 as a continuation and expansion of the original HOPE Act of 2006. These laws expanded the benefits provided to Haiti under the Caribbean Basin Initiative trade programs, with the goals of fostering stability and economic development in Haiti. About 90 percent of Haiti's exports to the United States are in the apparel sector, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
In February, Kirk announced a new initiative to assist post-earthquake recovery efforts in Haiti. The initiative, called the Plus One for Haiti program, encourages U.S. brands and retailers to work toward sourcing 1 percent of their total apparel production from Haiti. Companies participating in the Plus One for Haiti program can use existing HOPE II duty-free access for Haitian-made apparel, and the pledges for increased sourcing efforts have encouraged investors to get Haitian factories fully operational again. The legislative initiative announced by Capitol Hill on Thursday should further promote investment in Haiti, the USTR said. ' Chris Gillis
Rivals appear ready to collaborate
Most manufacturers and retailers would be willing to collaborate on supply chain activities with a direct competitor, according to a panel organized by the U.K.-based Shippers' Voice at the Multimodal Exhibition in Birmingham, England this week.
The panel included analysts from Transport Intelligence and Drewry Shipping Consultants as well as from The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA).
The panel's consensus was that companies were seeking collaboration, but that the definition of collaboration 'was not so clear.'
Joel Ray, a director with Transport Intelligence, presented the results of a survey that showed 94 percent of respondents would be willing to collaborate with a major competitor in terms of their supply chain.
“About 40 percent had already done so in the past and most saw transport, rather than warehousing, as the main area with potential for collaboration,” he said.
Ray added that the vast majority of those who would consider collaboration said they would need to do it through a third party in order to maintain commercial confidentiality.
“Ninety percent say that 3PLs could play an important role in brokering and managing the process,” he said.
Daniel Fernandez, secretary general of TIACA, said new security rules would also drive more visibility and closer collaboration through the supply chain. But he stressed that “lots of sacred cows,” in terms of cooperation and collaboration, would have to be looked at again for it to work in any meaningful sense.
There was one dissenting voice. Philip Damas, director of Drewry Supply Chain Advisors, said that while everyone talks about partnership and collaboration, it very rarely happens in the true sense.
“In many cases it is simply a vendor-supplier transactional relationship,' he said. “Collaboration is a mostly marketing speak. Maybe about 10 percent of it is real collaboration and added value.”