TEXTILE STATE LEADERS SEEK BUSH SUPPORT
Byline: Joanna Ramey
WASHINGTON — Governors from four textile-producing states — Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Alabama — asked President Bush Wednesday to take steps to help the ailing textile industry they characterized as “facing a crisis of survival.”
At the same time, the American Textile Manufacturers Institute’s board on Wednesday decided to back an apparel-industry compromise designed to help end a Capitol Hill stalemate over interpretation of textile rules of origin in the Caribbean Basin trade bill.
In the governors’ letter, they asked the President for assistance in staving off the industry’s decline, such as enforcing U.S. laws that protect domestic industries from unfair competition. They detailed how textile mills, despite billions of dollars in annual investment to become more productive, can’t with “unfairly low-priced Asian imports that have flooded our country in recent years.”
As for the the Caribbean standoff, the compromise supports the textile industry’s goal of granting duty-free status to Caribbean-made apparel of U.S. textiles if the fabric is also dyed and finished in the U.S. As a trade-off for receiving this more restrictive country-of-origin rule, the ATMI board agreed to support increasing the amount of knitted apparel made of Caribbean Basin-made textiles, which under the trade bill can enter the U.S. duty free.
Sen. Jesse Helms (R., N.C.), has been blocking Senate confirmation of Treasury officials until the administration and House lawmakers require dyeing and finishing to occur in the U.S. Helms maintains that when textiles are finished outside the U.S., they lose their “Made-in-the-U.S.” status, contrary to the will of Congress in writing the trade bill.
A staffer in Helms’s office said: “We’re interested in the industry proposal. We think the [knitted apparel] numbers are a little high, but it’s worth taking a look at.”