Sunday 19 November 2017

Ivanka's China supply chain is now shrouded in secrecy

Donald Trump listens to daughter Ivanka speaks at a workforce development event in Wisconsin earlier this year. Photo: AP/Andrew Harnik
Donald Trump listens to daughter Ivanka speaks at a workforce development event in Wisconsin earlier this year. Photo: AP/Andrew Harnik

Erika Kinetz

It is no secret that the bulk of Ivanka Trump's merchandise comes from China. But just which Chinese companies manufacture and export her handbags, shoes and clothes is more secret than ever, an Associated Press investigation has found.

In the months since she took her White House role, public information about the companies importing Ms Trump's goods to the US has become harder to find.

Information that once routinely appeared in private trade tracking data has vanished, leaving the identities of companies involved in 90pc of shipments unknown. Even less is known about her manufacturers.

Trump's brand, which is still owned by the first daughter and presidential adviser, declined to disclose the information. The deepening secrecy means it's unclear who Ms Trump's company is doing business with in China, even as she and husband Jared Kushner have emerged as important conduits for top Chinese officials in Washington.

The lack of disclosure makes it difficult to understand whether foreign governments could use business ties with her brand to try to influence the White House - and whether her company stands to profit from foreign government subsidies that can destroy American jobs. Such questions are especially pronounced in China, where state-owned and state-subsidised companies dominate large swaths of commercial activity.

"Right now we do not have the legal mechanism to enforce transparency unless Congress requests information through a subpoena," said Richard Painter, who served as chief White House ethics lawyer for George W Bush. "It's putting our trade policy in a very awkward situation."

Abigail Klem, president of IT Operations LLC, which manages Ms Trump's brand, said the company does not contract with foreign state-owned companies or benefit from Chinese government subsidies. However, she acknowledged that its licensees might. Mr Trump has called companies that benefit from foreign government subsidies "cheaters".

Irish Independent

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