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US Legislators Fight EU Tariff Increase On American-made Women’s Jeans

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American-made blue jeans are immensely popular in every nation of the European Union, but will consumers keep buying them if prices suddenly soar?

A steep increase in the EU sales price of jeans has occurred as a consequence of a new, and some say prohibitive — 38 percent EU tariff recently imposed on these products.  The previous EU tariff was 12 percent.

The tariff was described by at least one international trade lawyer as retaliation by the World Trade Organization against the US for the latter’s refusal to comply with the so-called Byrd Amendment which authorizes the US to collect duties on goods considered unfairly traded.

The EU tariff will cost many US jobs, a significant number of which are in the Los Angeles area and elsewhere in California, say industry observers.

In response to the potential job losses and a profit squeeze on premium denim and jeans makers in her Congressional District, Representative Lucille Roybal —Allard,(D-CA), and three other House Representatives sent a letter to the Acting US Trade Representative asking for action to reverse the EU tariff.

A key passage in the letter spells out the Congressional legislators’ concerns:

“Consumers around the world associate blue jeans with the United States.  Unfortunately, if the EU’s excessive duties remain in place, it’s likely that in the future, fewer denim brands will carry the label ‘Made in America.’  That’s why fair market access for American apparel manufacturers should be a priority when trade talks begin with the European Union.  I call on the Administration to protect California manufacturing jobs by fighting for a level playing field for our state’s iconic denim brands at these negotiations.”

Samuel Ku, vice president and creative director at AG Jeans of South Gate, California, said, that to avoid the heavy tariff, “Everyone’s [denim and jeans makers] are going to think of moving production overseas.”

Ku said his firm is thinking about relocating some of its production to a factory in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

Ilse Metchek, president of the California Fashion Association, said, “We have no lobby in Washington,” meaning there’s no professional advocate in the US capital to fight the tariff and to pursue the interests of California denim and jeans makers.

With the new tariff in place, California job loss is inevitable, Metchek claims.  Current LA County unemployment stands at 10.2 percent.


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