WASHINGTONAmerican Eagle Outfitters has filed a short-supply request with the Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements for the ability to use certain non-U.S. or Moroccan rayon woven fabric in the production of women’s and girls’ woven apparel made in Morocco and still qualify for duty benefits under the U.S.-Morocco Free Trade Agreement.

The teen fashion retailer is alleging in the petition that 100 percent rayon woven fabric cannot be supplied by the U.S. or Moroccan textile industry in “commercial quantities in a timely manner” and is essentially seeking to modify the rule of origin under the free trade deal.

If approved by the U.S. and Morocco, American Eagle and other companies making apparel in Morocco would be allowed to import the fabric from anywhere in the world and still receive duty-free treatment when shipping the apparel back to the U.S. The U.S.-Morocco FTA contains a strict yarn-forward rule of origin that requires apparel to be made of fabric and yarns supplied by the U.S. and Morocco to qualify for duty-free benefits when shipped back to the U.S.

Some trade agreements contain what is known as a “short-supply” mechanism that is designed to allow importers a chance to use specified yarns or fabrics from non-U.S. or FTA countries if they can prove the domestic textile industry or an industry in the partner country cannot supply a large enough commercial volume of the product in a timely manner.

The process for approval can be contentious. The U.S. textile industry has opposed some requests in the past when U.S. mills come forward  saying they can supply the product in question.

CITA, an interagency committee at the Commerce Department, is soliciting public comments on American Eagle’s request.

In a separate petition, Swimsuit Commission Corp. is also seeking to be able to use certain non-U.S. or Moroccan printed and piece dyed warp knit fabrics of polyester or nylon fibers, under the free trade agreement. CITA is also soliciting public comments on that request.

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