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US Trade Officials Talk USMCA at Lenzing’s Alabama Textile Plant

Lenzing Fibers Inc. hosted assistant U.S. Trade Representative Bill Jackson, and Lloyd Wood, deputy assistant secretary for textiles, consumer goods and materials at the U.S. Commerce Department on Wednesday for a tour of its Axis, Ala., plant and a broad discussion on Made in America and the administration’s key trade and investment priorities.

The U.S. trade officials met with Erwin Kuebel, site manager and president of Lenzing Fibers; commercial manager David Adkins, finance director John Patterson; human resources director Carla Miller and logistics manager Bob Keene and discussed an array of general policy priorities, including the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill and continued efforts to strengthen customs enforcement.

Jackson briefed the group on the pending U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which has passed the House of Representatives and the Senate Finance Committee. The main focus of the discussion centered around maintaining the competitiveness of the U.S. textile industry through policies designed to encourage onshoring, boost exports and support Made in USA provisions, particularly the critical Berry Amendment that restricts the Department of Defense from using funds for procurement of food, clothing, fabrics, fibers, yarns, other made-up textiles, and hand or measuring tools that are not grown, reprocessed, reused, or produced in the U.S.

“We are so pleased to have two administration officials visit Lenzing, a very valued member of NCTO (National Council of Textile Organization),” said Kim Glas, president and CEO of NCTO, which helped arrange the visit. “Lenzing is a significant innovator in the industry and has made significant investments in the U.S, helping drive the overall investment of $20 billion made by the entire industry over the past decade.”

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Kuebel stressed that Lenzing is committed to and offers sustainable solutions for the textile industry.

“We produce wood-based cellulose fibers, using renewable raw materials from controlled sources,” he said. “Doing this, we help to improve the eco-footprint of the industry.” Lenzing has made commitments to reduce its CO2-footprint by 50 percent by 2030, he added, has a vision to become CO2-neutral by 2050.”

Lenzing executives also highlighted the importance of the USMCA to the textile industry as a key way to strengthen the Western Hemisphere supply chain. USMCA would update and replace the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The NAFTA supply chain accounts for $20 billion in annual trilateral textile and apparel trade and is important to the continued growth of the industry, according to NCTO.

The updated USMCA makes several key improvements for textile businesses, such as stronger rules of origin for sewing thread, pocketing, narrow elastics and certain coating fabrics. In addition, it ensures stronger customs enforcement.