|Ivanka Trump Is Exception to Dad's 'Buy American' Rule|
Beijing (AFP) - In his January inauguration speech, US President Donald Trump made a seemingly straightforward pledge: "We will follow two simple rules: buy American and hire American."
His daughter is the exception: even as he spoke, at least eight shipments of Ivanka Trump-branded shoes, bags and clothes — more than 59 tons — were steaming towards American ports from China, according to US Customs bills of lading examined by AFP.
Trump uses his presidential pulpit to censure manufacturers — both domestic and foreign — for using overseas labor to make goods for American consumers, but the Ivanka-branded orders have kept rolling in.
More than two tons of ladies' polyester woven blouses, 1,600 cowhide leather wallets and 25 tons of made-in-China footwear were among at least 82 such shipments that passed US Customs — almost one per business day — from Trump's November 8 election win through February 26, records showed.
The goods were made in China by three US companies holding licences to manufacture products for Ivanka Trump's fashion line: garment maker G-III, Mondani Handbags and Marc Fisher Footwear.
Marc Fisher told AFP it had no comment, while the others did not respond to requests.
The first daughter's business has come under scrutiny since major US department store chain Nordstrom announced in February it would stop carrying her products, citing poor sales.
That provoked a scathing attack from Trump and his advisers and even prompted senior counselor Kellyanne Conway to urge Americans to go out and buy his daughter's products.
The Washington Post reported this week that many had done just that, with February proving a banner month for the brand, in terms of sales.
- 'Very hypocritical' -
More than 1,200 shipments of Trump-branded products have flowed into the US from China and Hong Kong over the past decade, according to an examination of US import data last year by anti-Trump political action committee Our Principles PAC.
During his campaign, Trump defended the licensing of the Trump name for goods made in China — from shoes to ties to dress shirts — as smart business.
But at the same time he frequently accused China of stealing US jobs through unfair trade practices and currency manipulation, while also slamming US firms such as Ford and Nabisco for off-shoring.
Since taking office, he has kept up the pressure, vowing to punish domestic and foreign companies that manufacture abroad with massive tariffs of as much as 45 percent.
His frequent fusillades have led some companies to second-guess decisions to build production facilities overseas.
In February, Japanese firm Nisshinbo Holdings, a leading global maker of automobile brake parts, dropped plans to open a factory in Mexico, saying it was due to Trump's trade policies.
But the president has been notably silent on his daughter's products, which are sold in American retailers like Macy's, Lord & Taylor and TJ Maxx.
G-III alone sold $29.4 million of the goods in 2015, and sales in the first nine months of 2016 were up $13.3 million over the same period the previous year, according to the company's public filings.
But rather than chide his daughter’s partners for making their products abroad, Trump instead lashed out at Nordstrom last month after it announced it would stop carrying Ivanka's fashion range.
"My daughter has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom," he tweeted.