The letter, written by NTA president Karl Spilhaus and signed by executives from 29 textile firms, including Roger Milliken, walks through five main issues, including mandating that apparel imported under the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act of 2000 be made of fabric dyed and finished in the U.S.
More than a year since that law went into affect, the dyeing and finishing aspect remains the subject of fierce debate. Spilhaus contends in his letter that, prior to passing the bill giving trade promotion authority to President Bush, the House Republican leadership gave Congressman Jim DeMint (R, S.C.) a letter assuring that it would clarify the dyeing-and-finishing provisions.
He also took on the issue of giving Pakistan trade breaks as a reward for its cooperation with the U.S. during its military campaign in Afghanistan. He wrote: “While we support the war effort, our industry simply cannot endure any further liberalization at this point.”
The letter further asks the U.S. to resist any efforts on the part of developing nations to speed up the phaseout of all quotas on textiles and apparel among World Trade Organization nations,which are due to be lifted on Dec. 31, 2004.
On the issue of illegal transshipment, the NTA letter calls for stricter enforcement of current laws and Customs policies, citing unofficial government estimates that $10 billion to $12 billion in illegally transshipped goods enter the U.S. every year.
The letter also takes on the issue of reciprocal market access. While government officials have pledged to try to open foreign markets to U.S. textile and apparel exports, a recent WTO agreement said developed nations would not seek reciprocal access from developing nations — a group the NTA points out includes almost all of the major textile exporters.