Retail Execs Say TPP Talks with Lawmakers "Very Productive"

The negotiations for a 21st-Century Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) are in the final stages, and this week RILA member companies joined other retail and apparel executives from the TPP Apparel Coalition on Capitol Hill for a successful lobbying campaign. The coalition, directly employing three million workers globally, including two million workers in the United States, urged lawmakers that final TPP agreement should include more flexible rules and duty-free market access that would help American companies be more competitive in today’s global economy. Such provisions would support American families and American jobs.

"Our coalition represents American apparel brands, manufacturers and retailers that directly employ three million workers globally, including two million people in the United States,” said Stephanie Lester, vice president of government affairs at RILA. “Our objective in talking to lawmakers is to ensure that the ongoing TPP talks result in more flexible rules and immediate duty-free market access to promote trade and investment for apparel.”

The coalition, comprised of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA), National Retail Federation (NRF), Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) and the United States Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel (USA-ITA), and several of their member companies, brought nearly 50 apparel and retail executives to Washington, DC for over 200 meetings with House and Senate offices. During those meetings, the executives heard strong support from many offices who share their goal to improve the rules for apparel in the TPP and to achieve an ambitious, high-standard agreement that spurs new trade and investment.

"We had very productive conversations with lawmakers who recognize the positive impact that changes to apparel rules will have in delivering greater value to the U.S. consumer and in ensuring a comprehensive, high-standard TPP agreement that maximizes opportunities to create new U.S. exports and U.S. jobs,” said Patty Reber, Sr. Director of Sourcing at Target Stores, one of the executives in town for the meetings.  

"Flexible apparel rules that reflect the commercial realities of global value chains and immediate market access will create jobs, trade and investment here in the United States," said Janet Rivettcarnac, Vice President Gap International Sourcing at Gap Inc., another company executive participating in the discussions. "The retail community will continue to be engaged on this issue and the importance of the TPP.”

A recent economic study found that on average, 70.3 percent of the final retail price of studied apparel is created by workers in the United States. The U.S. value-add came in the form of both blue collar and white collar jobs – in product design, research and development, transportation, logistics, distribution, compliance, quality assurance, legal support, marketing, merchandising, sales, and customer support. Better provisions for apparel in the TPP would support the three million Americans whose jobs directly depend on these global value chains that design, produce, and sell imported apparel.

“Realizing the realities of business models today, it is critical that U.S. trade policy measure success by making U.S. companies, and the workers they employ, more competitive in the U.S. market as well as in markets around the world. For apparel, this means more flexibilities in the rules of origin and immediate and reciprocal duty-free market access,” added Lester.

RILA is the trade association of the world’s largest and most innovative retail companies. RILA members include more than 200 retailers, product manufacturers, and service suppliers, which together account for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales, millions of American jobs and more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities and distribution centers domestically and abroad.

The TPP Apparel Coalition is comprised of American retailers, apparel brands, apparel manufacturers, and importers, and the millions of American workers they employ. The TPP Apparel Coalition comprises U.S.-headquartered companies that together employ three million workers globally and two million people in the United States. Their combined sales totaled $548 billion in 2011. Coalition companies design, market, and sell products on every continent and throughout the TPP countries. The TPP Apparel Coalition supports the negotiation of a 21st Century TPP agreement that generates new trade and investment opportunities for the benefit of workers, businesses, and families. These opportunities include buying and selling goods and services, sustaining and growing well-paying U.S jobs, and providing high added value for the U.S. and TPP economies.


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