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Industry Talk

Dilemma for the USA – PPE self-sufficiency or continued imports?

The association has long brought attention to the detrimental impacts of tariffs on American consumers, workers and business.

8th March 2021

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Washington, D.C.

Protective, Medical/Hygiene

Seemingly going against the consensus that after many supply issues from Asia in 2020, the USA should be now become self-sufficient in the production of facemasks and PPE, the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), has welcomed the announcement by the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR), extending tariff exclusions for the imports of such products.

“We are thrilled that the Biden Administration has taken action to extend the Section 301 exclusions on cloth face coverings and other PPE for six months,” said AAFA president and CEO Steve Lamar. “While we focus on Covid-19 relief and recovery, it is essential that these efforts are not undermined by production costs and retail price increases due to tariffs. Today’s action prevents these problems.

“At the same time, we must focus on the recovery of the US economy. As such, we again call for the expeditious review of the underlying China 301 tariffs as well as those exclusions that were allowed to expire in 2020. Additionally, many PPE categories are still caught in this tariff trap as are other products that support many US jobs in our industry and in our economy. We look forward to working with the new team at USTR on these pressing issues.”

The association has long brought attention to the detrimental impacts of tariffs on American consumers, workers and business – especially as it relates to the production of PPE during the battle against Covid-19.

In a letter to the USTR, the AAFA said that at the beginning of the pandemic, its members rallied quickly to repurpose facilities, factories and supply chains to produce and quickly distribute PPE and other urgently needed medical materials.

At the same time, these companies, including those who produce PPE domestically, also faced and continue to face barriers to importing critical PPE and the materials used to make them.

“Unfortunately, efforts to provide much-needed PPE have been hampered by the high duties the US government still charges on imports of these emergency products,” the AAFA said.

The AAFA repressnts more than 1,000 world famous name brands and is the public policy and political voice of the apparel and footwear industry, its management and shareholders and its nearly four million US workers who contribute more than $400 billion in annual US retail sales. 

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