Interview with Julia Hughes

Julia Hughes
Julia Hughes

In U.S. politics, we are seeing a debate over protectionism vs. opening markets.
With Fibre2Fashion Correspondent Cindrella Thawani, Julia Hughes describing the picture of US apparel market as well as interesting and competitive sourcing opportunities. Synopsis: The United States Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel (USA-ITA) was established in 1989. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., it assists its members’ voices to be heard by U.S. government officials and other decision makers as well as signifies the needs of American retailers, brands, importers, and related service providers. Julia K. Hughes is the President of USA-ITA. However, she has also served as the first President of the Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT) and is one of the founders of the Washington Chapter of Women in International Trade (WIIT). In 1992, she received the award of OWIT and in 2008 received the WIIT Lifetime Achievement Award. Moreover, Hughes has an M.A. in International Studies and B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. Excerpts:

Sourcing organizations facing rising costs, probably owing to rising wages in China. Further, America is stressed, Europe is volatile, and China is showing its gradual growth, consequently affecting demand and supply. What does this mean?

While the volume of U.S. apparel imports has been falling in 2012, cost continues to increase. Prices are higher for apparel even though U.S. consumers may not be ready to accept that. Absolutely, we see rising costs around the world. Labor costs will continue to increase, too. In addition, the industry is still paying for last year’s skyrocketing prices for cotton.

Where do you see global sourcing opportunities for importers?

China remains the major sourcing destination for both United States and European Union. China supplies more apparel–and many types of products – for U.S. apparel brands and retailers, than any other country. So, in that sense, no country competes with China in terms of the sheer volume of sourcing opportunities. However, looking at the rest of the world, there are many other sourcing opportunities available today. Apparel suppliers based in Asia— meaning Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Asia—ship 76 percent of U.S. imports. The most competitive producers remain Vietnam; Bangladesh, and Indonesia—moreover, U.S. imports from these countries combined with U.S. imports from China represent almost 2/3 of all U.S. apparel imports. In addition to these volume suppliers, there are very interesting sourcing opportunities closer to home. For U.S. companies, this means Western Hemisphere production that is usually duty-free under NAFTA or CAFTA-DR. Apparently, duty-free production offers substantial savings since the U.S. duties on apparel can run as high as 32 percent.
Published on: 08/08/2012

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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