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U.S. and Canadian Apparel Associations Call for Further Regulatory Coherence

Monday, November 18, 2013
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

[Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the Nov. 14, 2013, issue of the Advisor, a weekly publication of the ST&R-TAP service, and is reprinted here with permission.]

The American Apparel and Footwear Association and the Canadian Apparel Federation recently submitted input to the Regulatory Cooperation Council in response to a request for comments on regulatory harmonization between the United States and Canada. In regards to labeling, the submission states that in the United States the Federal Trade Commission issues registered identification numbers or wool products label numbers while Canadian authorities issue the equivalent CA identification numbers. The associations believe that these systems should be merged together to lower costs for both government and industry.

Both countries also have onerous domestic origin claim regimes for apparel articles, with regulators restricting the unfettered use of “Made in the United States” or “Made in Canada” claims to products that are made within those two countries from raw materials that are also sourced domestically. U.S. regulations allow companies to state that an apparel article has been made in the United States from imported materials but Canadian regulations require disclosure of the specific origin of the fabric. The submission calls on the RCC to review U.S. and Canadian regulations and make recommendations on how to reference imported materials on disclosure labels.

Thirdly, both countries have labeling requirements for upholstered furniture and bedding in order to guarantee cleanliness and the safety of stuffed articles. However, three Canadian provinces (Ontario, Manitoba and Quebec) also apply these regulations to apparel containing stuffing or padding. The associations recommend that Canada not apply these regulations to apparel and that U.S. and Canadian authorities eventually allow a single label to be used in both countries.

In regards to product safety, AAFA and CAF suggest that the U.S. and Canada harmonize their test methods or regulatory provisions regarding safety standards with respect to the flammability of general wearing apparel in general and children’s sleepwear in particular. Both countries currently require different tests to ensure safety, which increases costs unnecessarily. The submission also calls on the RCC to develop a common definition of a child care article for purposes of the phthalates safety standard by not viewing sleepwear as such. Lastly, the RCC should incorporate a similar definition of “child” by establishing a single age threshold and a single framework for determining whether a particular article of clothing is intended for children’s use.

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