MEMPHIS – The National Cotton Council (NCC) joined a number of textile and fiber organizations in the adoption of several trade priorities that will be communicated to the Administration, Congress and all candidates for public office during 2004.
The action was taken during a January 29 meeting of textile, fiber and other manufacturing principals in Greenville, SC.
NCC Chairman Bobby Greene said, “This recent action is essentially a reaffirmation of the policy priorities supported by a broad textile/fiber coalition during 2003. Those priorities continue to have a strong focus on China and its use of currency manipulation, non-performing loans and other unfair trade practices to maintain international market dominance.
“Recognizing China’s capacity to produce textiles, apparel and other manufactured goods, we think it is very important for the U.S. to continue to make timely use of China textile safeguards. It would be even more beneficial to both countries to engage Chinese officials in bilateral negotiations on an agreement to ensure Chinese textile imports do not cause serious market disruption – requiring repeated use of the WTO textiles safeguard provisions. If we cannot find a way, through comprehensive agreements and retention of U.S. textile tariffs, to hold Chinese imports to a reasonable level, there will be no way to retain a viable U.S. textile industry and enter into meaningful agreements with other trading partners.”
NCC President and CEO Mark Lange, said, “Trade issues remain at the very top of our agenda, along with farm policy. The scheduled removal of textile quotas at the end of this year ensures that imported apparel and home products will continue to capture ever larger shares of the U.S. consumer market. A recently completed NCC study indicates that the only realistic way for us to underpin the U.S. fiber and textile industries is to influence the source of textile product imports which, in turn, bears on the source of their textile and fiber content.”
Lange said U.S. dependence on its Western Hemisphere neighbors for cut-and-sew operations is already extensive and will continue to grow.
“Of the 6.5 million bales of cotton currently consumed by U.S. mills, more than 4.5 million is accounted for by yarns, fabrics or components that are shipped to neighboring countries for one or more manufacturing steps before returning to the U.S. retail market,” Lange noted. “The study suggests that within four years less than one million bales of U.S. mill cotton consumption will be entirely U.S. “dirt-to-shirt.”
Greene stated, “This understanding of the vital role of international trade to the future of the U.S. cotton industry explains the priority we place on trade policy as well as our interest in maintaining dialog with the Administration and Congress on trade matters.”
The coalition “platform” calls on candidates for office to: COMMIT to the continuation of quota restraints on Chinese imports of textiles and apparel; SUPPORT enhancements to an extension of the Berry Amendment and other federal buy-American purchase requirements; OPPOSE free trade agreements that contain unnecessary loopholes to the requirement to use signatory country fiber, yarn, thread, fabric, and fabric dyeing, finishing and printing; OPPOSE any reduction of U.S. textile and apparel tariffs through the WTO and any weakening of U.S. trade laws regarding unfair trade practices; and SUPPORT full enforcement of U.S. trade laws to aggressively address illegal trade activities and remedy violations.