PPAI Magazine May 2023

The Long March | Must Read Complicating the exit from China, Chinese cotton is exported abroad and may be found in products produced in other countries. “Chinese textile companies have been expanding their activities and presence to other countries in Southeast Asia and South Asia,” Stone Fish says. “Vietnam, for example, is an important hub for Chinese textile products. These countries also import textile products, such as thread, from China. These more complex international supply chains can obscure the source of components of textile products. Companies that relocate their sourcing outside of China still need to keep track of their entire supply chain and make sure they are not purchasing Chinese cotton through a company based in a third country.” Importers are cutting back on material brought in from China, and what continues to come from the country is under strict scrutiny. But cotton tracing is a highly specialized and difficult process, and even textiles purchased from other countries may be found to have traces of Chinese-grown cotton woven in. “The risks cannot be eliminated completely,” Stone Fish says. “The textile industry in China is extremely exposed to forced labor and other human-rights violations in Xinjiang. As a result, all textile products originating in China run a substantial risk of exposure to Xinjiang cotton and labor.” Promo Puts Measures In Place The straightforward answer to complying with the UFLPA is to source cotton somewhere other than China. The 2022 Summit poll is evidence of an openness in the promotional products industry to move production outside of the country, and industry companies navigating through the challenges of cotton sourcing are working with suppliers with which they have long, established relationships, putting new inspection practices in place and transitioning away from China. “SanMar believes that anyone involved in the production of our products should be treated fairly and in accordance with relevant labor laws,” says Jeremy Lott, CEO of Issaquah, Washington-headquartered apparel supplier SanMar. “Several years ago, SanMar dramatically reduced sourcing volumes from China. The limited number of products we do source form China are from long-term, trusted suppliers who are leaders in the textile industry. They understand the issue and the risk sourcing from XUAR would pose to their business, and they have proven their traceability processes to ensures no inputs are from XUAR.” Pierre Montaubin, senior vice president of product management and sourcing at Clearwater, Florida’s Koozie Group, which uses cotton in bags and other items, says, “Respect for human rights is a fundamental value of Koozie Group, and we aim to identify and address any risks in our supply chain. As best practice in 2020, we made the decision to find alternative sources outside of China for production of cotton goods. As a result, all our cotton products are now being sourced from Bangladesh, Pakistan and India. We use thirdparty audits and supply chain mapping to ensure any cotton we purchase is not sourced from the Xinjiang region of China.” Next Level Apparel, located in Torrance, California, recently announced partnerships Jeremy Lott Pierre Montaubin Randy Hales Arkhipenko Olga / kuroksta / Shutterstock.com PPAI • MAY 2023 • 69