WASHINGTON — The political climate surrounding imports from China intensified Thursday when U.S. trade officials announced fines and seizures for illegally transshipped goods.
U.S. officials said they will charge an additional $80 million, or four million dozens, of apparel to China’s 2006 and 2007 quota levels because of goods that were shipped to the U.S. from China, but were mislabeled with 11 different countries of origin. Transshipping usually occurs with the intention of sidestepping quotas and tariffs.
A joint announcement from U.S. Customs & Border Protection, the interagency Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements and the U.S. Trade Representative said investigators had identified more than 1,000 cargo containers of transshipped apparel from China that entered the U.S. in 2006 and 2007. Some of the goods were seized and fines were levied against importers for product that had been distributed.
The investigation began midway through last year when Customs officials found evidence of transshipping and was then extended to include 2006, said Brian Fennessy, branch chief for textile policy in the Office of International Trade, a division of Customs. The retroactive charges will not have an effect on 2008 quotas, trade officials said. But it adds to China’s record of export improprieties and reveals a more accurate record of China’s import growth. Ten apparel categories were involved, including cotton knit shirts and cotton trousers.
In the 12 months ended April 30, $8.6 billion in apparel and textiles under quota was shipped into the U.S. from China, which represents almost 30 percent of all apparel imports. The total value of apparel imports to the U.S. was $71.6 billion in 2006 and $73.9 billion in 2007, according to the Commerce Department.
“It is crucial that we continue to give [Customs] the resources and tools necessary to battle against massive amounts of transshipped textiles that enter our country,” said Rep. Robin Hayes (R., N.C.), whose state has been hit hard by textile industry job losses.
Hayes recently secured $9.5 million in funding in a fiscal 2009 spending bill pending in the House to help Customs agents curb illegal textile transshipments from countries such as China.
The textile industry has made its top policy initiative either securing a legislative solution or getting help from the Bush administration to restrain imports from China and Vietnam, two of the biggest suppliers to the U.S. The three-year bilateral quota agreement with China that restricts 34 categories of apparel and textile imports is set to expire at the end of the year.
A Vietnam apparel monitoring program, administered by the Commerce Department to evaluate whether goods are being sold in the U.S. below market value or the cost of manufacturing, known as dumping, will expire in mid-January.
“This huge amount of illegal activity demonstrates the need for the U.S. government to tightly monitor imports from China when quotas are removed on Jan. 1,” said Cass Johnson, president, National Council of Textile Organizations.
A spokesman for the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition said, “After quotas from China expire, you still very much would want to keep the entire enforcement program in place.”
Importers, who oppose an extension of the Vietnam program and inclusion of Chinese imports, said they were concerned the textile industry would use the announcement of transshipments as leverage for another year of monitoring Chinese and Vietnamese imports.
“The domestic textile industry will use anything they can to support restrictive regimes on China,” said Stephen Lamar, executive vice president for the American Apparel & Footwear Association.
Laura Jones, executive director of the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel, said, “This is politics, pure and simple.”
The annual Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in Pacific Palisades this weekend drew Kate Hudson, Tracee Ellis Ross, Laura Dern and more. See pictures of the star-studded event on WWD.com. (📷: @chelsealaurenla) #wwdeye
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye