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U.S. Trade and Government Round-up for July

Below is a collection of stories related to trade and government that may impact the U.S. sewn products industry.

House Bill to Incentivize U.S. PPE Production

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) introduced new legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives July 8th requiring domestic production of personal protective equipment (PPE). Specifically, the bill would require the U.S. government to maintain a national stockpile of PPE, 25% of which would be produced in the United States. The bill would also create a tax credit to assist manufacturers with the costs of developing or expanding domestic sources for the end-to-end production of PPE. (See related: Portman, Brown Press COVID-19 Joint Acquisition Task Force to Prioritize Procurement of US-Made PPE).

During a press conference to announce the legislation, Congresswoman Maloney was joined by several representatives of the New York City fashion and apparel industry, including SPESA member Gerber Technology.

U.S.-Kenya Trade Deal

The United States and Kenya officially launched negotiations July 8th for a new trade deal. If successful, this would be the first bilateral U.S. trade agreement with a sub-Saharan nation. Although Kenya – along with many other sub-Saharan countries – is currently eligible for duty-free access to the United States market under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which expires in 2025. Apparel items made up 70% of U.S. merchandise imports from Kenya in 2019, representing a total of almost USD $454 million.

Without providing any details, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative stated the new agreement would secure duty-free access for U.S. textile and apparel products, improve competitive opportunities for exports of U.S. textile and apparel products while taking into account U.S. import sensitivities, and establish origin procedures that streamline the certification and verification of rules of origin.

For a deeper dive into what this deal may mean for the U.S. sewn products industry, check out this Just-Style article from May or this post from the University of Delaware’s Dr. Sheng Lu.

FTC Reviews Labeling Rules

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced a proposed rulemaking June 22nd that would turn its Made in USA standard into a new Made in USA labeling rule, enabling it to crack down on and seek civil penalties from companies that make unqualified U.S.-origin claims.

Consistent with a 1997 guidance on U.S. origin claims, the proposed Rule would prohibit marketers from including Made in USA claims on labels unless: 1) final assembly or processing of the product occurs in the United States; 2) all significant processing that goes into the product occurs in the United States; and 3) all or virtually all ingredients or components of the product are made and sourced in the United States.

On the same day, the FTC proposed a repeal of its Care Labeling Act, which has required apparel manufacturers and importers to include care instruction labels on their products since 1971.

Congress Unlikely to Vote on WTO Withdrawal

While pundits in Washington, D.C., continue to debate whether or not the U.S. should withdraw from the World Trade Organization (WTO), it seems unlikely Congress will take a vote on the topic any time soon. A new ruling from the parliamentarian (the U.S. Senate's advisor on the interpretation of its rules and procedures) states that the vote to withdraw could only go to the Senate floor if the Senate Finance Committee (which has jurisdiction over trade) voted it out first, something unlikely to happen. Read more on Politico.

The WTO operates a global system of trade rules, acts as a forum for negotiating trade agreements, and settles trade disputes between its members.

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