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US Manufacturers Support More Trade To Help Haiti

James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

U.S. textile and apparel manufacturers and importers are supporting the new initiative by the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) aimed at helping Haiti's economic recovery by increasing apparel imports. The voluntary program, called Plus One, urges U.S. retailers and other importers to work toward sourcing 1 percent of their apparel from Haiti. At the present time, apparel imports from Haiti account for only about 1 percent of the total apparel imports from all nations, so Plus One would have little impact on the overall trade picture, but it would be of considerable help to Haiti.

Textile manufacturers would benefit from Plus One, because trade with Haiti is covered by the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement Act (HOPE) which provides, for the most part, for duty-free access to the U.S. market for apparel, providing it contains yarn and fabric made in the United States.

USTR Ron Kirk announced the Plus One program at a meeting with major U.S. apparel importers and their trade associations, and the program received a positive response.  Julia Hughes, president of the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel, applauded the initiative and said, "We will work with our member companies who already source in Haiti and will encourage our members who are new to Haiti to participate in the Plus One initiative."

March 2, 2010