Interview with Mr Kevin Burke

Mr Kevin Burke
Mr Kevin Burke
President & CEO
American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA)
American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA)

Market was marked by the anxiety of an unsure economy and fears of a national recession right from the beginning of 2008. What all programs are coined by AAFA to enable industry become resilient and meet head-on these presumed inescapable challenges?

AAFA continues to offer in-demand education seminars, conferences and webinars to our membership. These diverse programs cover topics such as supply chain issues, product lifecycle management issues, sustainability issues, human resource issues, etc.

ATPA (Andean Trade Preferences Act) is in effect until 31 Dec 2009. How had it benefited to US Apparel & Footwear sector so far, and how would your industry plan to exploit this extension until next year?

About $250 million worth of U.S. cotton and textiles were exported to the four Andean countries of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru last year. Most of these products are incorporated into finished garments. The finished products - made with U.S. yarns, fabrics, fibers, cotton and other textile inputs - are brought back to the U.S. duty-free. This win-win trade preference agreement stabilizes manufacturing and wholesale employment in all countries involved, while creating import opportunities that deliver a wider variety of goods at more affordable prices for all consumers.

The U.S. textile and apparel manufacturing industry still employs nearly 500,000 people in the United States. American jobs depend on fair, two-way trade with the Andean region and other developing nations worldwide.

ATPA is important legislation, but it isn’t perfect. Permanent, comprehensive and reciprocal legislation such as the recently approved U.S./ Peru and yet-to-be-approved U.S./ Colombia Trade Promotion Agreements is necessary to escape the current uncertainty created by the continual expiration and renewal of the ATPA program and move this vital partnership to the next level.

Eco safe products/production is a concern for all countries across the globe. How does AAFA promote it?

AAFA continues to pro-actively take a leadership role in ensuring that textile, apparel, and footwear firms have the resources to learn about and put in place a sound chemical management system.

For social, safety and environmental reasons, countries regulate the substances and chemicals that are used in apparel, footwear and textile products. There is no worldwide standard which companies must adhere to, but since 2007 the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) has published its semi-annual, first-in-the-industry Restricted Substances List (RSL).

Together with a special working group, AAFA compiles the RSL as a guideline for the industry, providing information related to the regulations and laws that restrict or ban certain chemicals and other substances in finished consumer home textile, apparel, and footwear products around the world. What may be unregulated in one country may only be allowed in small increments - or not at all - in others. The contradictions and complex regulations leave businesses vulnerable if they do not fully understand the laws and regulations in every country in which they operate and, just as important, know all of the substances found in their final products.

The RSL is free and available to everyone. To learn more, please visit AAFA’s RSL webpage :

Our student visitors from Campus Corner section on our website would be surely interested to know if AAFA carries any activities for their fraternity.

At this time we don’t offer any student programs, though we do offer full-time internships for students in America and have created a Career Center to assist in finding employment in the industry after graduation.


Published on: 22/12/2008

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of

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