Pants Without Borders?

Levi Strauss & Co.
November 11, 2010

Say, you run a business that involves moving goods – clothes, perhaps – from one country to another. And say, the various countries your goods pass through impose tariffs that keep changing, making it difficult for you to keep track.

Are you paying too much? Too little?

And what if those and other countries had customs procedures and complicated rules that were difficult to figure out, requiring you to spend tremendous time and money trying to keep up with changes and, at the same time, worried that you’re at risk of slipping up and running afoul of local law?

In very simple terms, that’s what Levi Strauss & Co. and other companies face throughout the Asia Pacific region: trade barriers such as a lack of transparency in trade and customs.

That’s why I’m attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit this week in Yokohama, Japan. I’m here on behalf of Levi Strauss & Co., meeting with my counterparts from other companies to determine what can be done to increase tariff and customs transparency and lower other trade barriers to get things done. There’s power in numbers, right?

This isn’t just about our bottom line. It’s also about jobs – in APEC countries and beyond.

Think about it. Levi Strauss & Co. markets its products in many APEC countries – Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Korea, Mexico, and Russia. On top of that, many of the countries where our products are made – including Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam – are also members of APEC.

The easier it is to do business in these countries, moving our products from one place to the next, the more business we can do – creating and keeping jobs in all of these places…and beyond! And if it costs less to do business in APEC member countries, we can keep our product costs down.

We’re working with other companies, non-governmental organizations and governments to increase the transparency involved in moving products in and out of the APEC countries. Our goal is a universal, up-to-date APEC-wide database of customs procedures, tariff rates and rules of origin for all 21 APEC economies. And I’m proud to say Levi Strauss & Co. is leading the way to make this a reality. Soon!

If you’re not directly involved in the work, it can seem like pretty dry stuff. But if the work we’re doing here in Yokohama this week – and elsewhere throughout the year – pays off, it’ll have a direct impact on your favorite Levi’s®, Dockers® and Denizen™ product.

If it’s easier for us to get everything from raw materials to the finished product from country A to country B and, ultimately, to your favorite store, we’ll be able to make sure you get the best possible product at the lowest possible price. And economies around the world will benefit.