As we waited for the second day of the 2019 SPESA Executive Conference to begin in New Orleans, we chatted about cajun food and elections with our keynote speaker, political commentator James Carville. One of the questions we asked Mr. Carville was which swing states we should watch for the 2020 U.S. presidential election. He told us to “get ready” because North Carolina, where SPESA is based, would likely be one of the most important states in the 2020 race. And he was right. In the past few months, we could barely go 15 minutes or 15 yards without seeing a campaign sign or commercial telling us who to vote for to protect our families, our business, our economy.
While we now wait for the last votes to be counted across the U.S., we're reminded of how important this and all elections are for our country. That is why we are dedicating this month's Behind the Seams issues to politics and policy.
SPESA intentionally does not get involved in politics often. We do not support candidates for office and we are not registered as a lobbying organization. It’s not that we don’t care about the issues facing our country or the elected officials who represent us — in fact, as former Washington D.C. residents, our whole team talks about the subject quite often. But our job as an association is to represent the interests of our members, and those interests are as politically diverse as our country is.
Some SPESA members manufacture and sell products all over the world and support lowered tariffs to help increase market access. Others focus on “Made in America” and want to see more investment in domestic production. Some members believe governments should provide subsidies to their industrial bases; others argue the merits of completely free markets. Some want to address environmental issues within their supply chains. And some think there should be more emphasis on workers’ rights.
While SPESA doesn’t choose sides, we certainly understand the importance of all of these issues and the impact that policy can have on our industry. We want our members, and the sewn products industry at large, to be aware of and understand the laws, regulations, policies, and political movements that can help or hinder your ability to do business. That is why we added the Trade & Government Round-up to Behind the Seams each month.
We also want to make sure that sewn products suppliers and manufacturers know of the opportunities and resources available to them. Last week, during the 2020 SPESA Virtual Executive Conference, we were joined by Mr. Lloyd Wood, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Textiles, Consumer Goods, and Materials at the U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration. His office is responsible for increasing the international competitiveness of the U.S. sewn products industry. We also heard from key industry figures who offered insight into how international trade and economic policies are affecting global supply chains and the industry overall. There is an incredible amount of useful information out there if you know where to look.
We don’t know what will happen with the U.S. presidential election just yet (hopefully we can provide some post-election insight later this month). But what we do know is that SPESA will continue to be a dedicated resource for its members and support the sewn products industry in any way we can.