Joint Statement from AAFA, NRF, RILA, USFIA, and FDRA on Reports of Forced Labor in Xinjiang
March 10, 2020 | WASHINGTON, D.C.
As an industry representing brands and retailers, we do not tolerate forced labor in our supply chains.
We work together to identify and eliminate forced labor, and conditions that can lead to forced labor, in the countries from which we source products. The industry continues to evolve and improve our existing approaches to identify, detect, and address risks of forced labor in our supply chains. We actively engage countries all over the world to advance respect for human rights.
We are deeply concerned by reports of forced labor and the treatment of Uyghurs and other ethnic minority workers in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and elsewhere in China. The reported situation is of a scale, scope, and complexity that is unprecedented during the modern era of global supply chains.
As acknowledged by both the U.S. government and non-government experts, the conditions in Xinjiang and the treatment of ethnic minority workers from the region present profound challenges to the integrity of the global supply chain, including issues of transparency, access, and auditing. Accepting the status quo is not an option.
Companies across the industry are considering all available approaches to address the situation. Brands and retailers are drawing on expert guidance and assembling industry stakeholders to address the situation. We are framing these actions through the lens of the United Nations (UN) Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and our own commitment to the fair treatment of workers in our supply chains. Our members have expressed strong concerns to their suppliers and reiterated that suppliers must maintain a supply chain that is free of involuntary and forced labor.
While we are taking action, our industry cannot solve this alone.
A successful solution for all, including the workers, will require state-to-state engagement and collaborative partnerships across government, industry, labor advocates, non-governmental organizations, and other stakeholders. Therefore, we urge the U.S. government to immediately engage a multi-stakeholder working group to develop and deploy a collective approach that accurately assesses the problem, and find constructive solutions that target bad actors and protect the rights of workers and the integrity of global supply chains.
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.
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 $2.6 trillion to annual GDP and supporting one in four U.S. jobs — 42 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.
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.
About the Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America
Representing over 90% of the entire footwear industry, FDRA is the industry’s business and trade association. Its members include the majority of U.S. footwear manufacturers, brands, retailers and importers to global footwear companies.