ATMI EYEING TEXPORT REPLACEMENT
Byline: Jim Ostroff
WASHINGTON — An international trading company created last spring by the American Textile Manufacturers Institute to seek export opportunities for American fabric and fiber producers has virtually ceased operation and its mission is being refocused.
Carlos Moore, ATMI’s executive vice president, said that the industry still is committed to developing the export market but in a way that potentially could be used by all of the association’s 134 members, rather than a relative handful.
The trading company, dubbed Texport, was launched last April by 14 ATMI member firms, each of which chipped in $20,000. The company, which was chartered by the U.S. as an international trading firm, received an antitrust exemption from the U.S. — a typical procedure that allows American firms to talk among themselves on a limited basis without concern about antitrust violations. Texport was headed by Carmer Robinson, working out of an Alexandria, Va., office. Robinson, previously a vice president for international sales with Dixie Yarns, Chattanooga, is no longer associated with Texport. He could not be reached for comment.
Moore said in an interview that Texport “developed more than 200 leads” for potential foreign textile sales, but he had no information on actual sales. It also exhibited U.S. textile products at about a half dozen foreign trade shows outside the U.S. and put on two private shows for potential buyers in Mexico. The actual sales were handled directly by this trading firm and not individual textile manufacturers.
“After nearly a year of operation, our members decided they can be served by many of the things that Texport has done, but we’re looking to totally refocus export efforts to one that emphasizes development and marketing, rather than actually selling products,” Moore said.
Dick Carr Jr., a vice president for corporate services with Spartan Mills, Spartanburg, S.C., a member of Texport, added that Texport’s efforts were concentrated in Mexico and “after three presentations there last fall, it became obvious that with the state of Mexico’s economy, many people were interested in looking, but the time was not right in Mexico for buying.”
Carr said that Texport’s activities resulted in no sales contracts being signed.
“Since we were getting ready to look next at other areas of Latin America, we felt it was a good time to reevaluate the entire Texport concept and structure,” he said. The member companies came to believe “it is better to have a company that does the research and marketing, provide this information to members and then let each company sell on their own,” he said.
Carr said Texport’s remaining funds “will be redistributed to each of its company stockholders.”
Moore noted that in the future, foreign market analysis and potential sales leads will be made available to all ATMI members at no cost.
It is still to be decided, Moore said, whether Texport will be replaced by some other entity, noting the ATMI board hopes to decide the matter by its mid-March annual meeting. A separate entity may be retained to continue this work, or it could be conducted wholly by ATMI staff.
“One thing that will be considered is whether to retain the antitrust exemption,” Moore said, “because this limits the ability of our members to sell in the [Mexican and Caribbean Basin] maquiladora trade. You cannot deal with U.S. companies that may operate maquilas.”
Under the antitrust exemption, Texport could only deal with foreign-owned companies.
Although exact figures are not available, trade analysts here have maintained that Mexico’s two-year export boom — mainly aimed at U.S. markets — has been fueled largely by U.S. companies which set up maquila operations in Mexico, by themselves or with partners.