White House Pushes 'Made in USA'
The Obama administration has placed the fashion industry squarely in the middle of its initiative to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S.
The push is part of a Made in America campaign being promoted by U.S. trade officials from coast to coast.
On Monday, the Los Angeles apparel industry received a primer on how to proliferate the Made in the USA label worldwide on the first official visit there by Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Demetrios Marantis. His two-day trip to Los Angeles, where he toured apparel manufacturing facilities run by women’s contemporary brand Karen Kane and denim manufacturers New Fashion and Blue River Denim, and held a roundtable with apparel executives, was the most recent stop in a series of targeted visits by U.S. trade officials to various sectors of the fashion design, apparel and textile manufacturing industries.
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Francisco Sánchez, undersecretary for international trade at the Commerce Department, made a three-day sojourn to North Carolina at the end of January to promote exports and textile manufacturing. He followed this with a trip in March to New York, where he toured Ralph Lauren’s headquarters and staged a roundtable, joined by Kim Glas, deputy assistant secretary for textiles and apparel, with major fashion firms and retailers, discussing key issues ranging from trade to manufacturing. Later that month, Sanchez addressed an American Apparel & Footwear Association’s sourcing and logistics conference in New Orleans, while Marantis spoke at the AAFA’s executive summit last month, addressing several hot button issues.
The new focus on the fashion industry is part of the Obama administration’s initiative to boost U.S. manufacturing and meet its goal in the National Export Initiative to double exports by the end of 2014. U.S. apparel and textile exports to the world grew 13.7 percent to $22.4 billion in 2011 compared to 2010, according to Commerce’s Office of Textiles & Apparel. Of the $22.4 billion in exports, textile exports grew 13.8 percent to $17.3 billion, while apparel exports grew 13.3 percent to $5.1 billion.
“I have been paying a lot of attention to this sector because it is an important sector,” Sánchez said in an interview. “Collectively, including the cotton growers, it represents more than 600,000 jobs here in the U.S. And so it is an important source of employment and I want to make sure that I am giving it appropriate attention.”
Sánchez said Commerce is planning to build on the success of its Sourcing in the Americas focus at the MAGIC show last August.
“We are going to build on that success and return to the 2012 MAGIC show with another Americas pavilion that can highlight Made in America products,” he said. “The Made in America brand is very strong, so we’re going to continue with the industry to take maximum advantage of the demand that’s out there.”
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