Do as Donald Trump says, not as Ivanka Trump does
An Ivanka Trump skirt and sweater, purchased before they counted as a political statement, hang in my closet. Both sport a “Made in China” label.
President-elect Donald Trump is pledging to punish companies that take jobs overseas. Yet his daughter’s company has already taken them there. According to a Bloomberg News report, Ivanka Trump’s $100 million apparel line “is mostly produced in Asian countries under a licensing agreement with G-III Apparel Group Inc.” Her shoe line, which is also made in China, is said to be moving to Africa, to take advantage of even cheaper labor.
Ivanka’s just doing what Dad does — but doesn’t want others to do. As reported during the campaign, Donald J. Trump-brand shirts and ties are produced in Central America and Asia. And, according to a list compiled last August by The Washington Post, Trump eyeglasses, furniture, mirrors, vases, lighting fixtures, and hotel toiletries, along with multiple other Trump products, are also manufactured overseas.
Trump the presidential candidate brushed off questions about hypocrisy, saying he understood the system better than anyone, so he’s best positioned to change it. For some reason, the disconnect never bothered voters. But now it may bother those businesses President-elect Trump is threatening to punish — especially as other CEOs watch the Trump business empire operate in synch with a Trump White House.
Ivanka Trump is front and center as a symbol of the new Trump business paradigm. As reported by The New York Times, she sat in on Trump’s meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan, the first foreign leader with whom Trump met as president-elect. At the same time, the Times reported, she’s nearing a licensing deal with a Japanese apparel giant, Sanei International. Her brand — already profiting from low-wage foreign laborers — is growing thanks to Donald Trump’s new job and her dual role as business mogul and confidante to a president.
Trump has put out word that he plans to back away from his business empire and focus on his presidential duties — with details to be discussed at a Dec. 15 news conference. In the meantime, he speed-tweets threats to inflict tariffs and other economic punishment on those who may be thinking about moving production overseas. In two recent tweets, Trump warned that “there will be a tax on our soon to be strong border of 35 percent” for companies “wanting to sell their product, cars, AC units etc. back across the border.”
How is Trump going to formulate policy that hurts others who want to do what he and his daughter already did? Will penalties apply only to companies that are currently thinking of moving production overseas versus those that have already moved production elsewhere? Will Trump carve out an “Ivanka” exemption for those who manufacture clothing, shoes, and handbags?
According to the Bloomberg report, Ivanka Trump’s current licensing deal puts her name on dresses and active wear that are produced primarily in China and Vietnam. Manufacturing those products in the United States could double the cost, cutting profits and driving up the price. That’s an economic reality Trump has been railing against. As he said in an October speech in Greensboro, N.C., which has seen the textile and furniture industries slip overseas, “They get the jobs, they get the factories, they get the cash and all we get — we get illegal immigration and we get drugs.”
Abigail Klem, president of the Ivanka Trump brand, told Bloomberg the company is interested in “being a part of the conversation” about increasing US production. That’s not enough. It should be leading the way.
Until that happens, no one who cares about Donald Trump’s pledge to bring manufacturing jobs back to America should be buying Trump products.