Free trade isn't always "free," at least when it comes to how it impacts specific industries. In the wake of the latest big U.S. trade deal, expect changes in the apparel industry.
Despite fierce opposition in Congress and by the leading Presidential candidates, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal, is likely to pass. That's according to Brown political scientist Wendy Schiller, who says that Republican majorities in both the House and Senate need to show they can govern during this election year.
Moreover, Schiller says that this is a deal that most Republicans support from both an ideological and business standpoint. TPP is supposed to create more open markets, lowering costs for manufacturers and ultimately for consumers. Opponents say that it gives companies manufacturing in foreign countries a competitive advantage.
The deal's impact on the apparel industry is likely to be significant. Some of it will be beneficial and some not so much. That will depend on where companies are currently manufacturing and selling their goods. What's certain is that the apparel industry will be more competitive.
TPP will lower trade barriers for all the countries involved -- the U.S., Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
Many brands have shifted or will be moving some manufacturing to the U.S. to increase production and logistical efficiency, and to lower costs. Under Armour recently announced plans to increase stateside manufacturing efforts. During a recent industry trade show, Under Armour VP of Material Process and Color Innovation, Keith Hoover said, "we want to be able to design and produce close to the market both in time and proximity... it may have patriotic elements to it but first and foremost it's a business story.