WASHINGTON — The Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements, a multiagency U.S. government group, on Friday published a denial of two separate short-supply requests filed by Levi Strauss & Co. under two preferential trade programs covering the Caribbean, African and Andean regions.

The preferential import laws largely require that U.S. textiles be used in order to receive duty-free status. But the laws allow garments made of non-U.S. materials to qualify for duty-free status if the materials are not commercially available in the U.S.

In the first petition, filed on behalf of Levi’s by law firm Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, Levi’s alleged that three patented fusible interlining fabrics used in the construction of waistbands could not be supplied by the U.S. industry in commercial quantities in a timely manner under the preferential programs. Levi’s said the three interlinings were “almost identical” to fabrics CITA approved in an earlier Levi’s request, but had varying widths, weights and fiber content delineations.

The company also said it contacted several U.S. companies and requested availability, but the companies could not supply the fabrics per Levi’s specifications. The petition listed H. Warshow & Sons, Darlington Fabrics Corp., Narroflex Inc., South Carolina Elastics, Milliken & Co., Precision, Customs Coatings and QST/Freudenberg.

“Instead, they provided substitute fabrics, which met with poor results,” the petition stated.

The American Apparel & Footwear Association and Dow Chemical Co. filed petitions supporting the Levi’s request, while Narroflex, a wholly owned subsidiary of Wentworth Textiles Inc. based in Canada, filed a strong objection.

Narroflex claimed Levi’s gave “misleading” representations to the government about its contact. The company claimed it had no direct contact with Levi’s, worked through Tag It, a presumed Levi’s contractor, and was not told the fabric sample it provided to Tag It had to meet the preference program’s rules of origin.

“Now that the petitioner’s needs are more fully outlined, Narroflex confirms that it has the ability to continuously provide fabrics on an ongoing basis and certainly within a reasonable time,” the company stated in its objection.

CITA also denied a second Levi’s short-supply request for two patented interlining fabrics of ultra-fine Lycra spandex crochet material for waistbands.In other trade news, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative announced it will begin free trade negotiations with Panama on April 26.

Panama is a minuscule supplier of textiles and apparel to the U.S. For the year ended Jan. 30, imports of apparel and textiles from Panama totaled 1.5 million square meters equivalent.

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