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Wake Up and Smell the Future

Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, January 17, 2005

It's been an interesting week. With two major home furnishings shows for textiles running simultaneously on two continents, a wide range of challenges and results were sure to emerge.

The lifting of quotas was an obvious one. And the questions were not all centered on China. Equally important but still unanswered was the question of shipping fabrics to other countries that come into the United States under quota — eligible or not eligible for export.

Another is the question of changing dates for Showtime. The issue — moving January and July to December and June. One reason is to avoid holiday and other show conflicts. Another to accommodate furniture manufacturers who are increasing their lead-time requirements.

Of course, all of this assumes that the buyers — non-furniture, retailers and home textiles suppliers together — can agree on common objectives.

It will be interesting to see the results and how a change will affect the ever-increasing design and production and shipping challenges.

Perhaps the most significant non-product situation is the now verbal discontent among American exhibitors in the U.S. pavilions.

The ambiance of the presentation in the two separate pavilions — the manufactured products area and decorative fabrics — has been constricted by governmental policies decades old. Those policies have been supported through the years by some politicos whose protestations recalled Shakespeare's “me thinks the lady doth protest too much.” The world has changed over time — most recently in the last four years — but our esteemed governmental policies continue to be wedded to what is now ancient history.

Specifically, American suppliers who cannot conform to the mandated 51/49 percentage ratio of U.S. made/offshore made are not allowed in the pavilions.

The result — little fashion, little color; lots of basics and closeouts. None of which does anything to showcase American capabilities.

Our government needs to understand that the world has changed 180 degrees in the last four years. And our companies are suffering the impact of an archaic, non-understanding governmental attitude. It's time for that to change.

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