WASHINGTON — A group of 24 House lawmakers reintroduced legislation on Wednesday that aims to crack down on textile import fraud and transshipments.
U.S. textile producers praised the legislation, known as the Textile Enforcement and Security Act, saying it provides more resources to U.S. Customs and Border Protection to help fight fraudulent textile imports, particularly goods that come from Central America under the Central American Free Trade Agreement and from Mexico and Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement.
“Due to the high-risk nature and the prevalence of fraud in textile and apparel imports, U.S. Customs and Border Protection designated the textile industry as a Priority Trade Issue — yet the industry continues to experience serious fraud, particularly in the CAFTA and NAFTA regions,” said Auggie Tantillo, president of the National Council of Textile Organizations.
NCTO said “phony companies” are creating Web sites purporting to use U.S. yarns and fabrics for use in the CAFTA region, and alleged recent data from Mexico shows that a third of denim jeans claiming NAFTA duty-free benefits are illegally using Chinese fabric.
Reps. Tom Graves (R., Ga.) and Mike McIntyre (D., N.C.), lead cosponsors of the bill, said it would provide more tools to Customs officials to enforce trade laws and target fraudulent textile and apparel goods. The bill would increase the number of Customs specialists, clarify that CBP has the authority to seize fraudulent textile and apparel imports, and establish a centralized database and an electronic verification program to track yarn and fabric inputs that enter the U.S. under free-trade agreement rules.
Kevin Burke, president and chief executive officer of the American Apparel & Footwear Association, raised concerns about the legislation.
“While the legislation is intended to address reports of major fraud and textile transshipment, there is great concern in the industry that the bill could impose burdens on legitimate textile and apparel importers,” Burke said. “We will fully evaluate the proposal and work to ensure that any final bill supports the U.S. textile and apparel industry’s access to global markets and global supply chains on which it depends for its competitiveness.”