By  on August 6, 2013

WASHINGTON — Cass Johnson, president of the National Council of Textile Organizations, has stepped down from his post and has been succeeded by industry veteran Auggie Tantillo.

Johnson served as president of NCTO since its inception in 2004 and was set to lead the organization, which merged with two other textile groups earlier this year, into a new chapter.

In an e-mailed letter obtained by WWD that was sent to members, NCTO chairman Bill Jasper, who is also president and chief executive officer of Unifi Inc., said, “On behalf of the NCTO executive committee, I am writing to inform you that Cass Johnson has decided to leave his position as president of the organization.”

Tantillo was serving as a “strategic consultant” for NCTO after heading the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, which merged with NCTO at the end of March. The National Textile Association also merged with NCTO at that time, as textile executives agreed to form a larger association to give a more unified and stronger voice in Washington.

“In addition to a career in Washington government relations that has spanned 25 years, Auggie has also served as a chief of staff in the United States Senate and as deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce for Textiles and Apparel,” Jasper said. “I am confident that his experience will allow NCTO to continue to provide excellent representation for its membership in regard to the vast array of issues confronting the domestic textile sector.”

Tantillo served in his Commerce post under President George H.W. Bush from 1989 to 1992. Prior to that, he worked as staff director and administrative assistant to South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond from 1988 to 1989.

NCTO’s main lobbying push this year has been focused on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade negotiations between the U.S. and 11 other countries, which could significantly impact trade flows in the textile sector. The industry is pressing for a yarn-forward rule of origin that requires apparel to be made of fabric and yarns supplied by the U.S. or other TPP signatory countries to qualify for duty-free benefits when shipped back to the U.S.

The organization has also pressed the U.S. to help resolve a problem with Mexico involving product verification audits on U.S. textile exports to the country. In June, Francisco Sánchez, undersecretary of international trade at Commerce, joined a group of 20 U.S. textile executives on a trip to Mexico City, where the Mexican government held a workshop outlining new procedures that could lessen the burden and costs of audits on U.S. textile producers that have cost tens of thousands of dollars and forced some companies to stop exporting to Mexico.

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