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TAAT Presses For TPP Textile Rules That Support Private Industry, Jobs, Exports

The Textile and Apparel Alliance for TPP (TAAT), a coalition of fiber, textile and apparel organizations representing 30 countries in the Americas and Africa, has written a letter to United States Trade Representative (USTR) Ron Kirk urging inclusion in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement of textile rules that support manufacturing jobs, private industry and exports from free-market economies.

TAAT members include the American Fiber Manufacturers Association, American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, National Cotton Council, National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), National Textile Association and United States Industrial Fabrics Institute; as well as associations from Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement region, and 19 countries in the Africa and Middle East area. The alliance reports exports from its members to the United States have grown by $2.7 billion over the past three years, while U.S. exports to alliance members have grown by $2.9 billion over the same period.

In its letter to Kirk, the alliance notes that its textile and apparel supply chain, which employs almost two million manufacturing workers and farmers, is threatened by TPP partner country Vietnam's request "for country-of-origin rules for textiles that would uniquely benefit Vietnam and which are far weaker than the long standing origin rules in existing U.S. free trade agreements (FTAs) and preference arrangements. These rules would provide Vietnam's state-owned apparel manufacturers with direct access to China's massive state-run textile enterprises to create apparel and other products that would then be duty-free into all other TPP countries."

The letter continues: "We urge you to continue to press for textile rules that will grow manufacturing jobs in the United States and in our countries. In particular, we support a yarn forward rule coupled with strong customs enforcement rules and resources which will ensure that third parties, such as China, do not take advantage of a final agreement. In addition, we feel it is essential that the agreement include realistic market access rules and other mechanisms to help counter-balance the government of Vietnam's historic support for its textile and apparel sector."

NCTO President Cass Johnson said the alliance's makeup and position on the TPP textile rules "demonstrate how important it is to get these negotiations right, both for us and for our trading partners. These negotiations are our first priority, and it's a high priority as well for other groups that are not associated with the TPP. They will also be affected by it, and it is important for the administration to realize this and to listen to all who will be affected when deciding what the final rules will be."

It is hoped the TPP agreement will be finalized this year. Kirk has reaffirmed the need for strong textile rules in the TPP, Johnson noted.

March/April 2012




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