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AAFA President goads world apparel trade to move ahead

Mar '06
Kevin M Burke - AAFA
Apparel & footwear trade association AAFA President & CEO Kevin M Burke cautioned that imposition of quotas, duties and other mechanisms designed to protect country markets, including the United States from import competition, is a costly and counterproductive mistake.

Addressing the Prime Source International Apparel Forum, Burke expressed hope that the Doha Round of global trade negotiations will lower tariffs and other trade barriers in the U.S. and worldwide.

“We believe a successful Doha Round could reduce tariffs in the United States as well as open fast-growing foreign markets like China, India, and Brazil to US brands by lowering their tariffs and eliminating their non-tariff barriers,” Burke said. Such action, he added, would “move world apparel trade forward—to the benefit of US apparel firms and supplier countries worldwide as well as consumers…”

Burke pointed out that when quotas on apparel were imposed in the United States in 1974, US apparel and textile manufacturers employed more than 2.2 million workers. Today, there are 627,000. While there is still some apparel manufacturing in the United States, US apparel industry is largely focused on marketing brands of products designed, sourced, distributed, and sold by US workers, but manufactured elsewhere.

Now that quotas have been eliminated, “US firms now have more opportunities to source the best product at the best price in the best amount of time under the best working and environmental conditions,” he said. “The bottom line is that the elimination of quotas has enabled U.S. apparel firms to provide US consumers with a wider variety of high-quality, reasonably--priced clothes made under more socially responsible conditions -- while still making a profit.”

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