For the most part, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, textile and apparel factories in countries the U.S. trades with, are keeping in line with trade agreement rules.
CBP sends designated Textile Production Verification Teams (TPVTs) to conduct routine foreign factory visits and determine instances of illegal transshipment or improper shipping under free trade agreements or trade preference programs.
For fiscal 2015, CBP uncovered relatively few violations.
In particular, the teams verified claims for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), the U.S.-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement (CTPA) and the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS).
CBP visited factories in Honduras, Korea, El Salvador, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Mauritius, Guatemala and Madagascar.
When it came to verifying illegal transshipment, no factories exhibited evidence of shipping goods to an intermediate destination and then on to another destination. Transshipments are typically made when there’s no direct air, land or sea link from one country to another, when a port of entry is blocked or when shippers want to hide the identity of the country of origin.
The only country where factories were deemed high risk—meaning they didn’t or couldn’t provide records proving goods’ country of origin—was the Dominican Republic, where three factories were considered at risk.
In terms of violating FTAs or preference programs, the Dominican Republic again had two factories found in violation and Guatemala had three.
Where providing sufficient documents to support trade program claims was concerned, most of the visited countries had at least one factory in violation. Lesotho—dubbed a leader in the African manufacturing upsurge—led with seven factories in violation, followed by El Salvador with six. Only Korea and Mauritius had no factories with insufficient documentation of the claims.
CBP said shipments from non-compliant factories claiming AGOA, CAFTA-DR, KORUS or CTPA preference will be verified for eligibility.