Trade dynamics and policies are complex and complicated as our world becomes more and more interconnected.
The current trade dispute between the United States and China bears witness to this and has had a negative impact on businesses around the world. The small, 100% female-owned business, Bennett and Company, is unfortunately one of them. The American company is classified in the minority and has been in difficulty for a few years under the circumstances of the 301 tariffs.
Company owner, president and chief designer Jacalyn Bennett founded her lingerie business over 30 years ago. Its aim was to provide jobs for young women. The head office is in Newburyport, where it is housed in a centuries-old structure originally built to promote global commerce.
Bennett was one of the first American women to open a factory in China after it was privatized in the 1990s. Today, she continues to provide secure jobs for young designers and create an environment where young women are protected in the world. fashion industry.
However, Bennett and Company is among the thousands of companies struggling due to the 301 tariffs put in place in 2017. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the trade dispute sparked a possible global recession.
So what exactly is going on and how do the following trade barriers affect us?
The problem started with the 1974 Trade Act against China which was put in place in August 2017 by the Trump administration. It has been claimed and identified that China has engaged in illegal practices, so instead of commonly negotiating trade disputes through the World Trade Organization (WTO), the United States has launched a tariff investigation under of Article 301 and threatened to impose a tariff on 250 billion dollars of Chinese goods. goods.
In retaliation, China raised tariffs on $ 110 billion worth of U.S. goods. It was a continuous exchange of retaliatory actions and marked the beginning of the trade dispute between the United States and China.
US-China relations in the Biden era highlight our current dilemma, as policies imposed during the Trump era are still in place with no deadline for a resolution.
U.S. import duties now stand at $ 360 billion in Chinese goods, and we have little clarity about the future and our economic engagement with the world’s second-largest economy.
As a perfect example of the damage, Bennett and Company lost nearly $ 3 million to China’s 301 tariffs on lingerie products we import – none of which can be produced elsewhere.
Jacalyn Bennett has gone to great lengths to establish sewing factories in other countries including England, Ireland, Haiti, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam, but nothing has worked. because the product cannot be made in these countries.
Emphasis was placed on building his factory in China, where the quality of work is highly evolved, and his love for philosophy and dedication to bringing cultures together are unmatched.
It took over 20 years to build its lingerie manufacturing factory in China to the highest standard of quality. The type of product and the level of complexity made in the 100% female-owned Chinese factory cannot be replicated in another country, as they have tried again and again. Bennett and Company is heavily and personally invested in China and the clothes cannot be purchased anywhere else.
Here in the United States, Bennett and Company offers more than 40 jobs and conducts ongoing internships in public and community schools. Bennett offers scholarships to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston, the Rhode Island School of Design, and the Northern Essex Community College in Haverhill.
Along with this, Bennett and his team support and give back to our local communities. It supports more than 60 local charities, including a wellness center established in the Newburyport public school system and the Anna Jaques Hospital. Support is only possible thanks to the success of his business.
As uncertainty persists, Bennett and Company urges all fashion executives, colleagues, friends and community members to educate themselves and raise awareness of the potential downfall of our industry and how American citizens are failing. cannot produce such products.
In 2021, women no longer want to sit in front of sewing machines like 100 years ago. The finely detailed lingerie products we manufacture at John Stuart Bennett’s highly skilled factory in China, along with the 40 jobs we provide for young designers and local employees, will no longer be available if Tariff 301 is maintained.
Brynn Beaudoin is Assistant to the President of Bennett and Company in Newburyport.