In a rare bipartisan move, 167 Congressional members sent a letter to the United States Trade Representative (USTR), co-signed by The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), urging stronger textile rules. The letter included a request that the yarn forward requirement and tariff phase-outs be included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP), currently under negotiation.
A similar letter was dispatched to the USTR in 2012 but was signed by only seventy-six members of the House. The increased number of legislators signing this year’s letter indicates the growing awareness of the TPP and the potential economic benefits for all its signatories.
Once completed, the TPP free trade agreement will cite mandatory requirements, including the yarn forward rule, applicable to all countries involved and to the garment and textile sectors as well.
As explained in the letter, “The yarn forward rule has been a success because it ensures that only textile and apparel manufacturers within a particular free trade region, such as the proposed TPP, get the benefits from the agreement.”
The U.S. and its free trade partners currently enjoy a combined total of more than $25 billion annually in textile and apparel trade. Once the TPP pact is established, significant additional revenues are anticipated for all countries involved.
Twelve nations are now hammering out provisions of the pact, including the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Japan has also been asked to participate in the agreement.
“NCTO is grateful for the leadership of Representatives McHenry, Coble, Pascrell and 164 of their peers in Congress who today stand in strong support of the more than 500,000 workers in the overall textile sector in the United States,” said Cass Johnson, President of the NCTO, referring to the letter of support to the USTR.
“The breadth of support for his letter indicates that members of Congress are concerned not only about the impact of textile rules on U.S. producers and workers but also of the impact on trade preference countries in the Western Hemisphere and Africa that depend on exports of apparel to the United States for badly needed employment and foreign exchange.”