Joint Statement From AAFA, NRF, RILA, USFIA in Response to Administration's Enforcement Actions to Prohibit XPCC Cotton

December 02, 2020 | WASHINGTON, D.C.

The American Apparel and Footwear Association, National Retail Federation, Retail Industry Leaders Association, and The United States Fashion Industry Association responded to an announcement from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) earlier today, on enforcement action regulating cotton imports from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of China to address widespread human rights abuses.

Our industry condemns forced labor and strives to eradicate it whether in China or elsewhere in the world. We are on the frontlines of efforts to ensure forced labor does not taint our supply chains or enter the United States. We welcome increased efforts by the U.S. Government and other entities to address the human rights abuses, including forced labor and the persecution and detention of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in China. We note that today’s action is focused specifically on XPCC, which is already the subject of sanctions the industry is helping to enforce. 

Clearly defined Withhold Release Orders (WROs) based on specific and actionable intelligence greatly supplement our own considerable enforcement activity, and we look forward to working with CBP to build a detailed and practical implementation strategy to make sure today’s actions are effective, enforceable, and focused on the bad actors who insist upon exploiting slave labor and do not harm trusted traders or our supply chain partners who are working tirelessly to stamp out forced labor.

Forced labor is abhorrent; it is one component of a much larger campaign of oppression. The campaign of oppression in the XUAR region must be addressed holistically to achieve the lasting outcomes we seek to achieve.

Today’s action reinforces the need for a unified and comprehensive approach to this human rights crisis, and we want to renew our calls for the U.S. Government to build and lead a coalition involving all stakeholders and allied countries to put pressure on China to end forced labor, and the wider campaign of repression it fuels, immediately. U.S. unilateral action can only succeed in ending these forced labor practices if it is accompanied by a “whole of world” approach.

About the American Apparel & Footwear Association
The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) is the national trade association representing apparel, footwear and other sewn products companies, and their suppliers, which compete in the global market. Representing more than 1,000 world famous name brands, we are the trusted public policy and political voice of the apparel and footwear industry, its management and shareholders, its nearly four million U.S. workers, and its contribution of more than $400 billion in annual U.S. retail sales. AAFA provides exclusive expertise in trade, brand protection, and supply chain & manufacturing to help our members navigate the complex regulatory environment and lower costs. Members gain unparalleled access to information and exclusive insights on regulation and policy, and premier opportunities for networking and collaboration.

About NRF
The National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association, passionately advocates for the people, brands, policies and ideas that help retail thrive. From its headquarters in Washington, D.C., NRF empowers the industry that powers the economy. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, contributing $3.9 trillion to annual GDP and supporting one in four U.S. jobs — 52 million working Americans. For over a century, NRF has been a voice for every retailer and every retail job, educating, inspiring and communicating the powerful impact retail has on local communities and global economies.
About RILA
RILA is the US trade association for leading retailers. We convene decision-makers, advocate for the industry, and promote operational excellence and innovation. Our aim is to elevate a dynamic industry by transforming the environment in which retailers operate. RILA members include more than 200 retailers, product manufacturers, and service suppliers, which together account for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales, millions of American jobs, and more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities, and distribution centers domestically and abroad.

About the United States Fashion Industry Association
The United States Fashion Industry Association (USFIA) is dedicated to fashion made possible by global trade. USFIA represents brands, retailers, importers, and wholesalers based in the United States and doing business globally. Founded in 1989, USFIA works to eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers that impede the fashion industry’s ability to trade freely and create jobs in the United States.

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., USFIA is the voice of the fashion industry in front of the U.S. government as well as international governments and stakeholders. With constant, two-way communication, USFIA staff and counsel serve as the eyes and ears of our members in Washington and around the world, enabling them to stay ahead of the regulatory challenges of today and tomorrow. Through our publications, educational events, and networking opportunities, USFIA also connects with key stakeholders across the value chain including U.S. and international service providers, suppliers, and industry groups.