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Action to Protect Trade

From: ASAP

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Arlington, VA – Following a series of meetings with government leaders, American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) President Kevin Burke urged the U.S. government to take immediate action to lower the risks now facing U.S. companies that do business in Pakistan, an ally in the U.S. war against terrorism.

Burke said in a letter sent to Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade , Grant Aldonas, "Without incentive to continue to do business there, these (apparel, footwear and textile) orders will be placed elsewhere – and soon."

Burke outlined a series of steps the U.S. government should take to ensure continued trade with Pakistan, which is currently America’s top supplier of cotton yarn imports, cotton fabric and cotton home furnishings, according to the U.S. Dept. of Commerce. Pakistan currently exports a total of $1.9 billion worth of apparel and textiles annually to the United States and is the fourth-largest supplier of these goods. The action items listed in Burke’s letter include:

Immediately suspending or eliminating duties for all apparel, footwear and textile goods coming from Pakistan. This cost reduction would help offset the financial risks associated with doing business in Pakistan. Immediately eliminating quotas for apparel, footwear and textile goods coming from Pakistan (This move must be coupled with duty elimination to make a difference). Streamlining U.S. Customs’ processes to more efficiently clear apparel, footwear and textile goods coming from Pakistan. The recent tension in the region has caused delays that discourage companies from doing business there. Urging the Pakistani government to eliminate its subsidies on apparel, footwear and textile goods. These subsidies distort prices and make it difficult to do business efficiently and successfully in Pakistan.

Burke urged that these actions take place immediately, i.e., "literally within days and weeks – in order that companies will not lose revenue immediately on goods currently in play, and that U.S. companies will continue to place orders in Pakistan."

Burke also called on U.S. officials to consider long-term issues, especially in light of the fact that the war on terror could continue indefinitely.

Specifically, he suggested expanding trade benefits with Pakistan and neighboring countries. "The advantages of a trade package for the region are obvious to the U.S. apparel and footwear industry, the countries in the region and, we hope, the U.S. government."

For more information on the apparel and footwear industry’s response to the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, please visit the AAFA’s Web site at www.apparelandfootwear.org. Look to the upper right side of the home page and click "Sept. 11: AAFA Members React." There you’ll find information on a variety of actions, including a summary of the millions of dollars worth of cash and in-kind donations AAFA companies have made toward relief efforts in the wake of last month’s terror attacks. Information on customs, sourcing and logistics also is posted there.

Founded in 2000, AAFA is the national trade association representing roughly 700 U.S. apparel, footwear and supplier companies whose combined industries account for roughly $225 billion in annual U.S. retail sales. AAFA members produce all types of apparel and footwear and are located in virtually every state. The AAFA also includes non-U.S.-based affiliate members.

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