Monday, December 22, 2014

Registration Open for 2015 Africa Trade Conference

Next Fall will be the Trade Winds Business Development Conference in South Africa from Sept. 16 -18, 2015

Leading up to this event, there will be an eight-part webinar series to prepare participating U.S. companies for a more successful experience during the upcoming Trade Winds - Africa Trade Mission.

As explained on the U.S. Commercial Services website, U.S. trade to and from Africa has tripled over the past decade and U.S. exports to Sub-Saharan Africa now top $21 billion.  Africa is home to 7 out of the 10 fastest-growing markets in the world.

The International Monetary Fund projects Sub-Saharan Africa to grow between 5 and 6 percent each year over the next two years.

Whether your company is new to this region or is looking to tap into new markets, this is the ideal launching point for expansion throughout the region.  The conference portion will be hosted in South Africa, during which time you can:

·  Participate in a focused business development conference, highlighting opportunities and challenges in this extremely dynamic region

·  Attend high-visibility business networking events with leading industry and government officials

·  Meet one-on-one with top African business experts from the U.S. Embassies and Consulates from the region for the latest trade leads and market entry strategies 

·  Find a partner or customer through screened business-to-business meetings in Angola, Ghana, Mozambique, South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania

In addition, you can increase your benefit by adding one or more additional participating countries to your itinerary.  With increasing efforts by ACTIF and other textile partners, this is a conference the fashion industry may well want to attend.  To learn more about it, click on the links above.

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Ambassador Froman’s Updates on TPP, T-TIP and Support for Greater US Exports

Last week I was privy to a discussion with the U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman on international trade and in particular, the state of two trade agreements currently being negotiated, namely the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) and the Trans Atlantic Trade Partnership (“T-TIP”).

 More info. on TPP can be found at
More info. on T-TIP can be found at

Whether you like it or not, negotiations continue to advance on both the T-TIP and TTP as the government’s position steadfastly remains that through trade agreements, foreign markets are opened up allowing for increased sales of US products. 

As described by Ambassador Froman, only 1% of small and medium sized businesses throughout the nation export.  The government wants to streamline procedures to enable them to engage in greater export sales, including via e-commerce, since over 90% of exporters are small and medium sized businesses, out of about a total of 300,000 exporting companies. 
Export related jobs pay 13% to 18% more than non-export jobs.
In addition to export increases, other benefits cited include an ability to create “rules of the road” on things we (in the United States) care about, including environmental and intellectual property protections, as well as “leveling the playing field” with respect to worker’s rights.

Ambassador Froman further highlighted the benefits of the “InformationTechnology Agreement” expansion talks which had been postponed for a year but apparently will support 60,000 new U.S. jobs, in addition to the new "Trade Facilitation Agreement" between India and the US, which will reduce the costs of trade and other procedures by 10% for developing countries and 14% for developed ones.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Ever Wonder How USPS Handles Exports and Imports?

I had the pleasure of seeing first hand how the US Postal Service (USPS) handles imports and exports by air in to and out of its Kennedy (JFK) airport location in Jamaica, New York during a recent tour I took there.

Regarding imports, USPS receives about 400 air containers per day from all over the world.  It has an International Mail Agreement which standardizes by code mail equivalents worldwide and streamlines the processing of incoming mail.  Mail passes under an infrared scanner that verifies receipt of the packages into the US mail system and reconciles payments at such time.  Of course, there is always mail for which an address cannot be read, a package’s integrity has been compromised, or some other reason necessitating the need for manual processing, so there is a dedicated area for doing this as well.

E-commerce and E-bay sales make up a huge portion of total imports by mail into the U.S. in what are known as “E-packets,” and to my surprise I saw some itty-bitty packages that identified the contents as clothing, a dress specifically, as it needed to be identified for customs purposes.  All I could think was, "this must be a really small dress!"  Or not a dress, obviously...
  In fact, 5 Million “E-packet” packages come from China and South Korea every month. Wow!
US Customs is, of course, present for cargo inspections and not only are agents walking around the floor to check and even open up questionable mail, Customs likewise has its own dedicated and restricted space for conducting larger inspections on flagged shipments.  

Regarding mail destined for foreign locales, i.e., exports, they arrive into the “Business Mail Entry Unit,” where commercial shipments have been delivered by bulk mail providers like “Asendia,” and the mail gets sorted and then assigned to a flight.  Air carriage services include their International Surface Air Lift (ISAL) option, which delivers within 7 to 11 business days, the International Priority Air Lift (IPA) option, which delivers in 4 to 7 business days, or an Express Air option which delivers in 3 to 5 business days and has a “time-definite” delivery to certain countries.  
 It should be noted however, that as not every foreign country has the infrastructure or capabilities to have this capacity, the time definite delivery cannot be offered to all destinations.
 The packages themselves are sorted by destination country and where the volume is very high, such as exports to Canada, a special section designated specifically for that country is demarcated.  With 3 working shifts a day, mail is kept moving 24 hours per day amounting to roughly 3 to 4 trailers of IPA and ISAL mail that gets exported daily.

While packages get placed onto various air carriers, 99% of air exports travel on a FedEX airplane, with whom USPS has service contracts and to which they are FedEx’s largest customer.

For more information on exports or imports with USPS, contact Mr. Kenyatta Adams of the US Postal Service at .

Questions/comments?  Post below or email me at
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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

AGOA Eligible Countries Keep Benefiting Despite GSP Lapse

Even during the present lapse in the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), US Customs clarified for the trade community today that GSP-eligible imports from African countries eligible under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) continue to benefit from GSP.

As currently legislated, the AGOA remains in effect through September 30, 2015.
Special program indicators (SPIs) denoted by a letter are shown on the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the US (HTSUS) to indicate under which special program a product may apply.

The overwhelming majority of AGOA-eligible tariff items in the HTSUS indicate one of three GSP SPIs, namely “A,” “A*” or “A+,” and not the AGOA’s SPI “D.”

US Customs requires that the AGOA claim be made on these GSP-eligible tariff items by prefacing the HTSUS number with the SPI “A.”

To receive AGOA preference for eligible goods on a tariff item with the SPI “A,” “A*” or “A+” in the “Special” column of the HTSUS (and not “D”), importers should transmit the entry summary with the SPI “A” and without duty.

For further clarification please refer to the AGOA regulations, 19 CFR 10.178a, and the GSP regulations, 19 CFR 10.171-178.

Questions about this may be directed to the Trade Agreements Branch at or to myself by posting below or emailing me at

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Online Resources for Fashion Compliance and Fashion Law

Are you looking for more fashion law information related to your fashion compliance obligations?

Here is a list of resources to help you learn more about what’s required for you to do the right thing and avoid getting hit by penalties for wrongdoing. We have many other articles in our blog that we invite you to peruse through as well.
Be advised that while we are providing this information and it may be considered guidance, we are not guaranteeing that any of the rules, regulations or protocols stated in these publications and resources are current (in fact portions of it are outdated as you will see since these laws frequently are amended, but it is what the government has published and is therefore, publicly available), still applicable, or should be considered as legal advice.
It is always recommended to have legal counsel review anything you have put together to ensure you are actually complying with the law. 


Are you telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth when it comes to your product descriptions made in advertisements, whether in print or online?  Perhaps, you’re stretching the truth???

Whatever the case may be, be advised that truthful marketing statements and non-deceptive advertising are highly regulated areas.  To learn more about what you can and can’t do, check out these links here:


Part of the sustainable fashion movement?  Are your products “Eco-friendly?”  If they are, kudos to you!  We are absolutely for the advancement of products that could be considered “sustainable fashion.”

As a warning, however, the government has strict rules on what can be claimed as “green” and even requires proof to substantiate any claims made.  Watch the video on their website and find more information on this at this link here:


We make excellent products here in the U.S.  and if you want to have the privilege of labeling your products with the statement “Made in USA,” you better darn well make sure that it was all or virtually made here in the USA.   While this may sound relatively straightforward, this can get complicated when some components have been imported despite the manufacture of the final product being fabricated here in the US.  It’s complexity further rises when a company wants it’s goods to qualify under the Buy American Act or to sell to the government, which has its own criteria regarding products claiming to be Made in USA.

For more on Made in USA disclosures, check out this page here.


Believe it or not, figuring out the proper way to state required disclosures on clothing can get complicated fast when what you are selling is either imported in to the USA, made in the USA but of foreign components, or made up of US originating components that are assembled into a finished product abroad.  This is because there are overlapping laws that apply to clothes under these circumstances.

It becomes further complicated if you are using recycled materials, unknown fibers or miscellaneous scraps.  Since there is so much misinformation out there on this subject, we invite you to contact us with any questions related to this subject.


To put it mildly, importing laws are a beast unto themselves.  Nuances from fiber blends, to articles sold as sets, to importing second hand clothes all raise specific issues in relation to product classification, labeling, how it is marked and its value determination.

US Customs Informed Compliance Publications cover a wealth of subjects from apparel classification, to fiber trade names, to importing basics.  They all give you a head start on how to do the right thing in terms of importing in to the US.

For these subjects, how to take advantage of money saving opportunities through the trade agreements, and more, check out this link.


“This is not your parent’s post office.”  -- Anonymous, USPS Corporate Office Employee

Don’t be fooled by what the U.S. Postal Service used to be, it currently provides the market’s share of shipping for e-commerce, and has been steadily expanding its reach to new corners of the globe to better serve you the merchant.  Have a look at its international services through the link here.


Many tests required under the apparel laws must be done by a test laboratory certified by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.   While approved by a US agency, they labs may nonetheless be outside of the US.  To search for a lab near you, check out this link here:


It's not uncommon that designers are concerned about the possibility of others taking their creative ideas and profiting from their intellectual property.  Learn more about protecting yourself through trademark, patent and copyright protection at the US Patent and Trademark Office


The following is a list of law schools that have either a Fashion Law course, have hosted a “Fashion Symposium,” or have a “Fashion Club” on campus.

  • New York Law School
  • Loyola Law School
  • Fordham Law School
  • Southwestern Law School
  • University of Virginia School of Law
  • Cardozo Law School
  • New York University
  • New England Law
  • The John Marshall Law School
  • Brooklyn Law School
  • Hastings Law School
  • Charlotte School of Law
  • St. John’s University School of Law
  • Touro Law School
  • Howard University School of Law
  • University of Southern California

Have questions or comments on fashion compliance and/or fashion law? Feel free to connect with us!

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Friday, November 7, 2014

How Do You Classify Sleepwear vs. Loungewear for Customs Purposes?

It's getting chilly outside, and as we bundle up on the outside we're doing the same indoors too. 
But which do you go for - sleepwear or loungewear?

I suppose as long as it's cute, it really doesn't matter, but for US Customs classification purposes it absolutely matters.  So how do you distinguish between the two so that proper disclosures are made to CBP upon entry?

Check out our video to learn more about some of these differentiating factors, and for more fashion and international trade, we invite you to head over to our Fashion Compliance YouTube channel for more easy-to-digest international trade fun.

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