AAFA and FDRA Welcome Progress on USMCA Deal Amid Broader Trade Uncertainty

Fashion and footwear trade organizations reacted positively to the announcement that President Donald Trump and the House of Representatives have agreed to move forward with the White House’s replacement deal for the North American Free Trade Agreement.

At a news conference today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the new version of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement a “victory for American workers” since it includes updated labor rules as well as provisions for agriculture, technology, manufacturing and other business sectors. It has yet to be signed and ratified by all three countries, but a vote is expected in the House next week and another in the Senate at a later date.

The American Apparel and Footwear Association praised lawmakers for hashing out the details of the deal, which has been in the works for more than a year. The USMCA had long received Republican backing, but Democrats had taken issue with its legal language over the enforcement of new labor laws.

“An integrated North American supply chain is an integral component of the apparel and footwear industry. Further, in a time of trade uncertainty, it will provide businesses with the ability to invest confidently in the region,” AAFA president and CEO Rick Helfenbein said in a statement. “That said, it is paramount that the transition from NAFTA to USMCA occur smoothly — to ensure that there are no negative impacts as the business community comes up to speed with the new rules.”

The pact marks a win for Trump, who pledged in his 2016 presidential campaign to do away with NAFTA. On Twitter this morning, he said that the bill would be “the best and most important trade deal ever made by the USA” and “good for everybody.” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer added in a statement that the agreement “will benefit American workers, farmers and ranches for years to come” and “will be the model for American trade deals going forward.”

The Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America noted that the new pact looks largely the same as the old one, as footwear firms that source products from Mexico will continue to receive duty-free access to the U.S. Under NAFTA, the countries don’t levy tariffs against one another’s shoe imports.

“While the USMCA includes the same exact footwear provisions as provided under NAFTA, we are glad that some added certainty has been provided with the announced deal today with House Democrats,” FDRA president and CEO Matt Priest told FN. “With this announced agreement, it is our hope that the administration will continue its focus on ending the trade war with China and explore new trade agreement opportunities with other important trading partners in the months ahead.”

The U.S. is still embroiled in a trade war with China, which has produced tit-for-tat tariffs on billions of dollars’ worth of imports hailing from the world’s two largest economies.

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