US Trade Representative Fully Backs American Textile Industry

The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) is solidly behind the American textile sector and is taking concrete steps to protect and bolster the industry.

This was said by USTR Ambassador Katherine Tai while speaking at the annual general meeting of the National Council of Textile Organizations’ (NCTO).

Tai while addressing textile industry representatives said that the US textile sector has an integral role to play in fostering the country’s supply chain resilience.

“USTR will not sit around and wait for our workers and other underserved stakeholders to come find us. We are coming to you, meeting you where you are, where you work and raise your families,” she added.

Tai spoke about her recent visits to various textile research and manufacturing facilities like Aurora Specialty Textiles, Milliken & Co, American & Efird, Wilson College of Textiles, and Glen Raven.

“The enormously meaningful site tours showcased the industry’s investment in cutting-edge technologies and green production processes and underscored its potential,” Tai commented.

Tai praised the industry which played a stellar role during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, which repurposed its capabilities to produce essential equipments like PPE’s, masks and gloves.

“This effort was heroic, and not only do I think we all owe you much gratitude, but I also think this is the reason why our trade policy should be used to build resilience in sectors like yours, and not undermine you,” she observed.

“I know the challenges you all have faced in the last several decades and are continuing to face today. We saw so much production leave the United States, in part because of our trade policies,” she noted.

“Plants shuttered, and many of your companies and workers suffered. I am here to tell you that I hear you, the President and the Vice President hear you, and we are on your side,” the USTR envoy stated.

“The USTR is now taking a new approach to trade, one that puts working families first and strives for resilience and durable growth,” Tai informed.

“One thing we learned from the pandemic is how vulnerable we are by over relying on products and inputs from distant shores, especially from economies that do not share our values,” she also said

She further added that we are actively working to reduce this reliance, including by incentivising US and regional production.

Tai stressed on the fact that the USTR is engaged in its statutory four-year review of Section 301 punitive tariffs on China-made goods and hoped that they will announce the outcome of that review soon.

She spoke about the creation of a collaborative, fully functional and verticalised western hemisphere supply chain for textiles, which is among the federal government’s primary objectives.

Tai cited actions of Vice President Kamala Harris which has mobilised the support of US companies like Gap Inc, Target and Columbia Sportswear as well as American textile mills like Parkdale Mills, Unifi, and SanMar to create meaningful economic opportunity in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

According to the USTR ambassador, till date, the initiative has galvanised more than $5.2 billion in private sector commitments in northern Central America.

“These investments and sourcing commitments will promote greater near-shoring and support American jobs that provide the yarns and fabrics that go into Central American apparel production,” Tai also added.

Tai reassured NCTO members that the US Administration was committed to safeguarding the yarn-forward rules of origin for garments under the CAFTA-DR pact.

“We want to work with all stakeholders to bring more production back to this hemisphere, while also strengthening regional supply chains and supporting good-paying jobs in the US and Central America,” she concluded by saying.

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