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Textile Manufacturers Seek Export Assistance

James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) is urging Congress to expand its export financing assistance to include both small and medium-sized manufacturers. Under a current program, the Small Business Administration (SBA) grants loans to small businesses with up to 500 employees. NCTO is urging Congress to authorize SBA to offer loans of $5 million, $10 million and $15 million and expand eligibility to firms with up to 1,250 employees, which would include a large number of textile companies.

Testifying before the House Small Business Committee, NCTO President Cass Johnson said financing options "play a pivotal role" in the US textile industry's ability to manufacture products for export. "Without adequate financing options and government supported guarantees," Johnson said, "international markets are no longer viable for US produced goods."

In addition to the expanded loan program, Johnson urged the committee to work with the Export-Import Bank to ensure that Ex-Im continues to offer flexible financing options for all businesses to help international markets to remain open to US goods.

In a related development, US Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk has initiated a plan that he says is designed to help increase exports by small and medium-sized US manufacturers. He has established a working group within USTR to ensure that the agency's policies address the needs of small and medium-sized manufacturers, and he has asked the International Trade Commission to investigate how that agency can help those manufacturers  become more involved in exporting.

Saying that small and medium-sized manufacturers are "at the heart of employment and job creation,"

Kirk said the administration will work on new trade policies and enforce existing ones in order to help smaller manufacturers increase trade abroad and create jobs at home.Kirk said his new initiative is just the beginning, and he will work with other agencies, such as the Department of Commerce and the SBA, that have complementary programs for small and medium-sized companies.

October 20, 2009

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