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From Farm To Fabric: The Many Faces Of Cotton - The 74th Plenary Meeting of the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC)
12/06/2015 - 12/11/2015

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12/07/2015 - 12/11/2015

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Congress Faces Trade Promotion Authority Legislation

Congress returns from its Memorial Day recess

As Congress returns from its Memorial Day recess, it faces a number of crucial international trade issues that will have a major impact on U.S. textile and apparel manufacturers and importers. The main vehicle is legislation that would grant President Bush Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), formerly known as "fast track," which would enable him to negotiate international trade agreements that could not be amended by Congress. Its pretty clear now that he will get such authority, but the question is how many strings will be attachedBoth the House and Senate have passed vastly different versions of TPA legislation. A House/Senate conference committee must resolve the differences. The compromise version will then be subject to new votes by both bodies.The Senate version of the bill goes much further than the House bill toward addressing the U.S. textile industrys trade agenda, and contains provisions opposed by apparel manufacturers and importers. The Senate bill includes an amendment supported by textile state senators that sets out "negotiating goals" calling for other nations to reduce their tariffs and non-tariff barriers before the U.S. makes any further concessions. The Senate bill also exempts U.S. anti-dumping and other trade protection laws from the no-amendment provision of TPA. Both of these measures are supported by the U.S. textile industry, but strongly opposed by importers.Both the House and Senate have passed legislation that for the first time would eliminate tariffs on textile and apparel imports from the Andean nations of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. The Senate version requires apparel products that enjoy duty-free entry to be made of U.S. fabric and yarn, with the exception that up to 70 million square meters can be made in one of the Andean countries. In a separate action, the House added an amendment offered by Rep. Jim DeMint (R-SC) to an appropriations bill that requires apparel enjoying the trade concession under the Andean Pact and the Caribbean Basin Initiative to be made of fabric dyed and finished in the U. S. That bill is likely to pass, since it is attached to strongly supported emergency supplemental appropriations bill.What the TPA bill will look like in its final form will be the subject of heavy lobbying by various interests and the White House throughout the month of June and possibly longer. By James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent