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.”
EXCLUSIVE: @tomford is opening its first-ever beauty store. The boutique, which opens November 20 in London’s Covent Gardens, was designed with the over-the-top glam Ford is known for. Read the full story on WWD.com, link in bio. #wwdbeauty #wwdnews (📷: Simon Wagner) #TomFordBeauty
New York-based DJ @harleyvnewton threw a party to celebrate the holiday collection of her dress and pajama line @hvn at the Ladurée Beverly Hills. It Girls @katebosworth, @rashidajones and more joined in on the fun, which included cocktails, croque monsieur sandwiches and a photo booth. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA.com)
For the holidays, @Burberry partnered with 20-year-old artist @blondeymccoy on a series of three outdoor murals in downtown Manhattan. The murals are McCoy’s interpretation of a Christmas eve party, the idea of charity and the spirit of family. His third mural, pictured here, is the most personal. The image depicts McCoy’s grandparents and father in London’s Trafalgar Square in the Seventies. “My work often features lots of sentimental objects.” #wwdeye
For spring 2018, designers applied bold colors and cartoonish motifs on everything from sneakers and belts to key chains. See all the top men’s accessories trends on WWD.com. #wwdtrends (📷: George Chinsee; Prop Styling by @rnasti; Market Editor: @luiscampuzano)
The @dior-sponsored @guggenheim international gala pre-party has a history of drawing cool-girl musical acts to serenade the crowd –– and last night was no exception. @haimtheband performed songs both new and old, and lured a star-studded audience with the likes of Rebecca Hall, Kate Mara, Mamoudou Athie and more. #wwdeye (📷: @lexieblacklock)
In a partnership between the @metopera and the @englishnationalopera, “Marnie” was born. The opera, with costumes sponsored by @mrporterlive, is an adaptation of the 1961 thriller by Winston Graham. Arianne Phillips, who created the costumes, is no rookie: She’s styled Madonna for her tours and created costumes for a myriad of films in the past. Read WWD’s interview with Phillips, where she talks about her inspiration for the opera’s costumes on WWD.com #wwdfashion
@barneysnyc took a different approach to their holiday windows this year. Instead of Christmas decor, Barneys tapped @thehaasbrothers to tell a story of positivity, gratitude and inclusivity via heartwarming silliness and humor. “It’s about kids and it’s about coming together and being family and loving each other,” said Simon Haas. #wwdfashion (📷: @joshuascottphoto)
Beauty influencer @kandeejohnson makes her foray into hair care with a collaboration with @ogx_beauty — making it the first time that OGX has teamed up for a product creation. The collab includes shampoos and conditioners in three scents. At 39 and a mom, Johnson is a different profile than the emerging social media stars, but is considered one of the pioneers of the digital beauty influencer world. Read WWD’s interview with her on wwd.com, including the strangest beauty product she’s ever tried #wwdbeauty