What 60-Plus Global Fashion Groups Want Governments to Do Now

More than 60 footwear, apparel and textile groups around the world are urging governments to band together to mitigate the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The American Apparel and Footwear Association along with 65 national and international industry organizations — including the Accessories Council, the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America and Council of Fashion Designers of America — have penned a memo calling on political leaders, banks, stakeholders and supply chain partners to help address COVID-19-related disruptions in the retail sector.

The outbreak — which has sickened more than 2.62 million people across the globe and killed at least 182,700 — has led to cancellations in vendor contracts, widespread worker furloughs and the closures of many factories and retail stores.

“Companies are desperate for cash to pay their workers and suppliers, while at the same time access to revenue is down due to closed stores,” said AAFA president and CEO Steve Lamar. “This is why we need governments — both the U.S. and globally — to work together with international financial institutions to make sure financial resources are available to keep supply chains solvent and workers employed. If this is not done quickly and thoughtfully, we risk burning a hole in the global supply chain.”

In response to the economic crisis, the fashion coalition has asked that governments and financial institutions enact temporary stimulus measures to ensure liquidity for businesses.

In the United States, congressional leaders are on track to pass a $484 billion bill that includes expanded funding for small firms, financial aid for hospitals and more money for coronavirus testing. It would become the Trump administration’s latest effort to prop up the economy, which it has already injected with a massive $2 trillion rescue package — the largest in modern U.S. history — on top of the first two coronavirus bailout plans worth a respective $192 billion and $8 billion.

What’s more, the groups pressed on the temporary deferral of duties and tariff relief to support cash flow, as well as requested governments refrain from imposing new trade restrictions that might impede the production or delivery of personal protective equipment and raw materials.

In another bid to boost the economy, President Donald Trump this month agreed to allow American businesses to delay their payments on a range of import tariffs for the next three months. To qualify for the extension, a company’s business operations must be fully or partially suspended during March or April as a result of coronavirus-induced federal travel and commerce restrictions.

In the statement, the organizations acknowledged that many of these items were addressed in a G-20 statement released in March; however, they added that, “words mean a lot, but the actions will determine how fast and how well we can emerge from this crisis.”

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