NEW YORK -- Twelve textile and apparel industry associations have thrown their support behind the Breaux-Cardin rule-of-origin amendment to the GATT Uruguay Round.
The amendment, introduced in the Senate by John Breaux (D., La.) and in the House by Ben Cardin (D., Md.), requires that country-of-origin status be granted only to the nation in which an apparel product is actually assembled, or a textile product is actually manufactured.
The amendment is now before a House-Senate Conference Committee for final determination.
The associations, which represent some 2 million U.S. fiber, textile and apparel industry employees, said they are concerned that retailers and importers will continue to push for the current rule of origin, which applies to the country where a fabric is first cut. Cutting, they said, represents only 5 percent of the cost of a garment. "Thus, fabric made in China, cut in Japan and sewn into apparel in China would enter the U.S. as 'Made in Japan,' " said Seth Bodner, executive director of the National Knitwear and Sportswear Association, one of the signatories.
Bodner said the Breaux-Cardin amendment would prevent countries such as Hong Kong "from exploiting its unfilled quotas with Chinese-sewn goods."
"Under the Breaux-Cardin amendment, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore will continue to have increased access to our market," said Bodner, "but they will have to manufacture the goods in their own country, rather than in China or Vietnam."
While the 12 associations are not officially opposing GATT, Bodner said he hopes the push for the Breaux-Cardin amendment will "open some people's eyes."
"We think that people who have been opposed to GATT will now be vehemently opposed, those who have been on the fence will now oppose it, and even those who have worried about GATT will become even more concerned," Bodner said.
Bodner added that the failure to include the amendment in the GATT package will "further erode the domestic fiber, textile and apparel industry."
The importing community, however, doesn't see it that way.
The U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel is calling for Congress to drop the Breaux-Cardin amendment "to help American families escape the high hidden taxes textile and apparel protection imposes on them," said Laura Jones, executive director of the USA-ITA.
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