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AAFA Newsbreaker
Feb. 3, 2009
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New Hotel Rate, Special Saturday Offer & Extended Deadlines
For AAFA Annual Executive Summit

In this issue...
Legislative, Trade & Regulatory News
  • House Stimulus Bill Extends Berry Amendment to DHS
  • CPSC Announces Stay of Testing and Certification Requirements
  • Senator DeMint to Introduce Legislation to Fix CPSIA
  • AAFA Submits Comments on Lead in Fabrics
  • Container Fee to Start Feb 18 at LA/Long Beach Ports
  • US Goverment Rejects CAFTA-DR Labor Complaint
  • President Obama Signs Executive Orders Affecting Federal Contractors
  • WTO Panel Finds Deficiencies in China's IPR Obligations
  • New York Law Changes Background Check Requirements for Employers
  • Footwear and Apparel Exempt from Import Declaration Requirement Under Lacey Act
    AAFA Member News
  • AAFA Welcomes New Member: Robar
    In the Press
  • Tariff Battle Set to Resume in Congress
  • Children’s Product Sellers Get 1-Year Reprieve on Lead Testing
  • Violent Unrest Rocks China as Crisis Hits
  • Recession Has Some Retail Landlords Offering Their Own Discounts
  • GDP Down 3.8 Percent in Fourth Quarter
  • Davos Dreams of Global Cooperation Face Protectionist Schisms
  • Consumer Spending Falls for Sixth Straight Month
  • Legislative, Trade & Regulatory News

    Last week, the US House of Representatives passed its version of an economic stimulus package, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (HR 1), which contains an amendment to extend the Berry Amendment to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) within the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The provision was included by freshman Congressman Larry Kissell (D-SC), who defeated the long time Republican incumbent Robin Hayes, the original champion of the legislation for several years. It is unclear how the language will fair in the Senate, as no comparable language can be found in the current version of the Senate bill. (Kurt Courtney)

    The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) on January 30 announced a stay of testing and certification requirements for certain product safety standards under the new Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). The stay goes into effect on February 10, 2009 until February 10, 2010. The stay of enforcement provides limited relief to manufacturers, by temporarily removing the statutory requirement to test or certify for lead or phthalates in their children's products. However, the products still need to comply with the new lead and phthalate limits that go into effect on February 10. The decision will give the CPSC more time to consider the proposed rulemakings issued earlier this January and to carve out exemptions from the lead standard for certain components and products that do not contain lead (such as fabrics). CPSC Chair Nancy Nord and CPSC Commissioner Thomas Moore both offered their comments on the rulemaking in separate statements issued January 30. In her statement, Chairman Nord emphasized that the retroactive application of the lead standard is still in effect and can only be changed through an act of Congress. While AAFA supports the limited relief granted by the Commission, the stay of enforcement does not go far enough as retailers are unlikely to sell products that are not guaranteed compliant through testing and certification. However, manufacturers do not need to test components or products that are known to be compliant – such as fabrics. AAFA continues to lobby for further changes to mitigate the unintended consequences of the CPSIA. (Rebecca Mond)

    Product Showcase:
    STR Apparel & Footwear Testing

    Substantiating the quality, safety and responsible sourcing of apparel and footwear. STR delivers comprehensive services for the apparel & footwear industry including physical, chemical, biomechanical and field testing, flammability, fiber content, colorfastness, dimensional stability, strength, performance, construction, aging, care label verification, and fiber identification and analysis. Our responsible sourcing audits and training services are internationally recognized and offer a thorough and objective analysis of labor conditions at factories. Starting right at the source, we work with our clients to secure quality, conformity and social responsibility of products at every stage of manufacture. More info

    US Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) announced on his blog that he will introduce legislation this week to fix many of the problems with the implementation of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). AAFA has been working with DeMint's staff to make sure his legislation would address many of the concerns that AAFA members have cited with the new law. Among other things, the legislation will: eliminate the retroactive application of the February 10 lead limits; exempt second-hand sellers from the Federal Hazardous Substances Act (lead standards) and labeling requirements; delay all CPSIA regulations for six months; revise the CPSIA's third party testing requirements to enable component testing; create a suspension of enforcement (by both the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the State Attorneys General) for 30 days after any date when the CPSC issues a rule, regulation or guidance; require the CPSC to wave any civil penalty for an initial good faith violation; and require the CPSC to work with the Small Business Administration (SBA) and State small business agencies to develop a compliance guide for small enterprises to assist them in complying with the CPSIA. (Rebecca Mond)

    As a follow up to a meeting AAFA held at the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) on January 22 regarding the non-incidence of lead in textiles and textile components, AAFA led a group of 18 trade associations in submitting comments to the CPSC on January 30 reiterating AAFA's position that lead does not occur in textiles and should therefore be exempt from the lead standard under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). Taking into account the full views of a stakeholders from all segments in the supply chain – including importers, domestic producers, retailers, wholesalers, and manufacturers -- the letter summarizes the key findings at the January 22 meeting and makes several recommendations and requests in several key policy areas related to the CPSIA, including lead exemptions, XRF testing, component testing, and the February 10 deadline. (Rebecca Mond)

    Burberry Ltd. counsel and Steptoe attorney discuss enforcement strategies and options on February 18, 2009 at 1:00 pm EST. Click here to learn more.

    The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach announced that they will begin to assess a new $70 fee per 40-foot container on February 18 under their joint Clean Trucks Plan (CTP). Cargo owners will be responsible for paying this fee, payable by credit card or electronic funds transfer. The fee must be paid before a container can enter or leave a terminal. These fees have already been delayed twice due to requests for additional information by the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC). As a result, it is possible that collection of the fees could be postponed yet again. (Kurt Courtney)

    The US Department of Labor issued its final report January 16 on a labor complaint filed April 23, 2008 against Guatemala by the AFL-CIO and six Guatemalan labor unions for alleged labor violations under the US/Central America Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR). The US Department of Labor notes in the report that the Guatemalan government has made significant strides towards improving labor rights in the country and, therefore, does not recommend that the United States request consultations with Guatemala on this matter. The US Department of Labor does, however, leave the door open for further consultations by committing to a further review of the situation in six months. (Nate Herman)

    President Barack Obama signed a set of executive orders on January 30 that he claimed would strengthen the rights of employees of federal contractors. The first order now requires government contractors to offer jobs to qualified employees when contracts change hands. The second order reversed a Bush executive order that required employers to post signs informing workers of their right to limit financial support of unions serving as their collective bargaining representatives. The third directive prohibits government contractors from being reimbursed with Federal money for expenses incurred trying to influence workers on whether to form unions or engage in collective bargaining. The executive orders served as a show of good faith to labor groups who overwhelmingly supported the President during the election. (Kurt Courtney)

    A panel of the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled January 26 that China has not been adhering to its international obligations on the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR). In 2007, the United States launched a dispute over the knock-offs of films, branded goods and other trademarked property openly available in Chinese cities. The panel also said it was "impermissible" under international law for China to allow public auction of counterfeit goods seized by Chinese customs authorities in the event the fake brand or trademark was removed from the good. China is expected to appeal the WTO ruling. (Kurt Courtney)

    As of February 1, New York State employers who use background checks for employment will have to issue new notice and posting requirements when hiring new employees. Specifically, when an employer requests information on an employee's or applicant's criminal conviction history, the employer must provide the employee/applicant with a copy of Article 23-A of the New York State Corrections Law. Also, the employer must make Article 23-A visually conspicuous at the workplace. (Kurt Courtney)

    The US Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published a Federal Register notice February 3 regarding revised regulations that exempt all apparel, footwear, textiles and travel goods from the AAFA-opposed new import declaration requirements under the Lacey Act. Under changes enacted by Congress last summer, the newly amended Lacey Act would have required importers of all products that contain any inputs made from plants (such as ramie blouses or paperboard midsoles in footwear) to submit a declaration at the time of entry containing detailed information on the genus, species and country of origin of the plant used to make that input. Comments on the revised regulations are due April 6. (Nate Herman)

    AAFA Member News

    Brian Kennedy
    Executive VP Sourcing
    131 West 33rd Street suite 610
    New York, NY 10001
    Phone: 212-967-9517

    Robar Inc., (USA) is a leading children’s apparel importer. Robar has been importing baby wear from Asia for the past 18 years.

    In the Press

    Tariff Battle Set to Resume in Congress
    from Women's Wear Daily
    After hitting a roadblock in Congress last week, a coalition of top footwear players is renewing an aggressive push to eliminate duties on certain types of lower-priced shoes. More (Subscription Required)

    Children’s Product Sellers Get 1-Year Reprieve on Lead Testing
    from The Los Angeles Times
    Federal regulators on Friday postponed some testing requirements that would have forced many companies to pay ten of thousands of dollars to check children's products for lead content, giving manufacturers and retailers a one-year reprieve. The Consumer Product Safety Commission deferred the deadline, originally Feb. 10, by which manufacturers and importers of children's goods needed to test every item to ensure it didn't contain more than 600 parts per million of lead. They also have an extra year to test for phthalates, chemicals often used in plastic. More

    Violent Unrest Rocks China as Crisis Hits
    from Bloomberg
    Bankruptcies, unemployment and social unrest are spreading more widely in China than officially reported, according to independent research that paints an ominous picture for the world economy. The research was conducted for The Sunday Times over the last two months in three provinces vital to Chinese trade – Guangdong, Zhejiang and Jiangsu. It found that the global economic crisis has scythed through exports and set off dozens of protests that are never mentioned by the state media. More

    Recession Has Some Retail Landlords Offering Their Own Discounts
    from The New York Times
    Back in the mid-1990s, when a stretch of Ludlow Street in Manhattan was dominated by boarded-up buildings and wholesale fruit and nut vendors, Terri Gillis’s boutique, TG-170, was one of the magnets that drew intrepid shoppers to the Lower East Side. That area is now one of the city’s liveliest late-night strips, which made it particularly painful for Ms. Gillis to receive an eviction notice last month because she owed $13,556.26 in back real estate taxes. But in a sudden change of heart, her landlord recently offered to let Ms. Gillis stay for two more years, and even proposed paying part of her future real estate taxes - which retail tenants normally pay. More

    GDP Down 3.8 Percent in Fourth Quarter
    from USA Today
    The U.S. economy suffered its worst collapse since the early 1980s in the final months of 2008, as consumers pulled back, exports slowed and software and equipment sales plunged. The Commerce Department said Friday that gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced in the nation, fell at a 3.8 percent annual rate in the October-December quarter, following a 0.5 percent drop in the third quarter. While that's the largest three-month drop since early 1982, it's better than the 5.5 percent annual rate of decline many economists had predicted. More

    Davos Dreams of Global Cooperation Face Protectionist Schisms
    from Bloomberg
    As world leaders in Davos called last week for international cooperation to tackle the financial and economic crisis, businessmen were complaining that the stress is only aggravating national divides. The financial industry’s effort to reduce risks from credit- default swaps is being held up because of regional competition, NYSE Euronext Chief Executive Officer Duncan Niederauer said. More

    Consumer Spending Falls for Sixth Straight Month
    from The Associated Press via The Washington Post
    Consumer spending fell for a record sixth straight month in December as recession-battered households, worried about surging layoffs, boosted their savings rates to the highest level since May. The Commerce Department says personal consumption spending, which accounts for the largest portion of total economic activity, dropped by 1 percent in December. That was slightly worse than the 0.9 percent decline economists expected. More

    AAFA Events & Educational Programs

    Feb. 4, 2009
    Intimate Apparel Council Program

    Hyatt Grand Central, New York City

    Feb. 12, 2009
    Footwear Division Board Meeting

    During WSA Show in Las Vegas, NV

    Feb. 12, 2009
    Card Check Power Breakfast

    Phillips Nizer, New York City

    Complete schedule of events

    AAFA Member Partners & Programs

    By AAFA partner,
    Boxwood Technology, Inc.
    Employer and employee
    job services.

    Freight Savings Plan
    By AAFA partner, Siriani & Associates, Inc.
    Save on shipping costs.

    Footwear Testing Services
    By AAFA partner, Intertek
    Expert resource and discount technical testing

    RFID Savings Program
    By AAFA partner, Avery Dennison
    Negotiated below-market priced labels

    XRF Analyzers
    By new AAFA partners,
    Innov-x and Thermo Scientific.
    Identification and quantification of toxic metals in products.

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    Ben Maitland, Director of Advertising Sales

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