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The American Apparel & Footwear Association today joined the United to Safeguard America from Illegal Trade (USA-IT) campaign – a new public education initiative designed to provide local officials, law enforcement, and thought leaders with information and training programs to help tackle illegal trade and raise public awareness of the depth of the problem. The initiative will also showcase the severe consequences inflicted on states and municipalities by black market profiteers. The campaign will run through 2021 across eight states facing critical illegal trade issues: Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
“Black market trade of items like drugs and weapons has obvious and inherent dangers; however, the sale of counterfeit apparel and footwear also has its fair share of risks throughout the supply chain and for the consumer – ranging from poor working conditions and American job losses, to consumer safety and brand reputation risks,” says AAFA President and CEO Steve Lamar. “Black market trade sets consumers up for immeasurable risk and jeopardizes the sweeping benefits of trusted, authentic, fair trading relationships – including the 21 million jobs that U.S. imports support.”
The black market is a $509 billion a year business, and it is growing. Criminals get rich from illegal trade by robbing revenues meant to provide essential services to Americans. Instead of helping taxpayers, that money is used to fund those who illegally traffic in drugs, weapons, and even people. These groups exploit governments and citizens, manipulate financial systems, spur corruption, and cultivate instability and violence that threaten communities.
No one government or single industry can address this complex problem on its own. Tackling illegal trade requires cooperation and public-private partnerships and fully utilizing existing expertise, information sharing, innovative solutions, and evolving technologies. Public actors, the private sector, and civil society alike all have a role to play.
AAFA is a major advocate for stronger brand protection measures to protect consumers and businesses from the adverse impacts of counterfeit products – most recently launching an awareness report about “Dupe Influencers” who tout counterfeit products across social media platforms.