Shawmut Corporation hosted deputy U.S. Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi last week at its headquarters and manufacturing facility in West Bridgewater, Mass., as part of Bianchi’s inaugural visit to textile manufacturing facilities in the New England area.
Her visit to Shawmut included a roundtable discussion highlighting the critical need for policies supporting a domestic supply chain and the innovative nature of today’s domestic textile industry and its importance to the U.S. economy. Shawmut, a family-run global advanced materials and textile manufacturer, specializes in innovative technical fabrics, automotive textile composites and custom laminating services, employing more than 700 employees worldwide with 10 global manufacturing plants and seven commercial offices.
The company has also contributed to U.S. personal protective equipment (PPE) efforts, investing $20 million in a new state-of-the-art facility that can produce up to 180 million National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health-approved N95 respirators and other PPE annually, creating hundreds of new local jobs.
“The opportunity to discuss with the USTR office the impact of our nation’s global trade policies on the valuable and passionate work our U.S. manufacturing teams provide to their local communities, U.S.-based trade partners and the nation is critical to supporting a robust U.S. supply chain,” Shawmut CEO James Wyner said. “We are thankful for ambassador Bianchi’s commitment to understanding the challenges we face on a global scale by her visit and dialogue here today.”
During the visit, U.S. textile executives spanning the fiber, yarn, fabric and finished product textile and apparel industries participated in a roundtable with Bianchi and discussed the innovative achievements and competitiveness of the domestic industry and outlined priority issues in Washington, such as the importance of Buy American and Berry Amendment government procurement policies, maintaining strong rules of origins in free trade agreements and the need to address larger systemic trade issues with China.
“Today’s tour of Shawmut’s manufacturing facilities and the roundtable discussion with textile industry executives was an invaluable opportunity for me to see innovative U.S. textile manufacturing first-hand, to learn more about the challenges that U.S. textile manufacturing faces, and to explore ways in which the administration and industry can cooperate to support a worker-centric trade policy,” Bianchi said.
National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) president and CEO Kim Glas said she appreciated Bianchi’s inaugural visit to New England to meet with U.S. textile executives and engage in substantive discussions centered around policy opportunities that help bolster U.S. manufacturing and the challenges confronting the industry.
“The U.S. textile industry is an extremely diverse, technically advanced and highly innovative industry that provides much-needed jobs in rural areas across the country,” Glas said. “Sound trade policies and enforcement are essential to this manufacturing sector and its workforce. We are grateful to…the entire USTR office, led by…Katherine Tai, for reaffirming its support of CAFTA-DR rules and acknowledging the importance of the co-production chain with our Western Hemisphere trade partners.”
She said NCTO looks forward to working closely with Bianchi and the USTR office to advance policies that bolster domestic production by expanding buy American policies and providing incentives for onshoring and nearshoring production, while addressing illegal trade practices that undermine the industry’s competitiveness head on.