NCTO Announces Winner of the 2022 Paul T. O’Day Memorial Scholarship

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Council of Textile Organization’s (NCTO) Fiber Council announces Ms. Abigail McBee, of Gaffney, SC as the recipient of the 2022 Paul T. O’Day Scholarship Award. She is the daughter of Emily and Douglas McBee, who works for Auriga Polymers/Indorama Ventures in Spartanburg, SC.

NCTO Chairman David Poston, President of Palmetto Synthetics LLC, commented, “We are pleased to recognize Ms. McBee’s exceptional record of academic achievements with her selection as the 2022 recipient of the Paul T. O’Day Memorial Scholarship. All of us on the Fiber Council congratulate Ms. McBee and wish her continued success in her academic career.”

The scholarship program was created in 2014 in honor of Paul T. O’Day who served as President of the American Fiber Manufacturers Association (AFMA) for more than three decades. The Association merged with the National Council of Textile Organizations in April 2018, and NCTO’s Fiber Council now administers the scholarship program. Recipients receive a $5,000 award each year, totaling $20,000 for four years of study. Sons or daughters of NCTO’s Fiber Council member company employees are eligible to apply.

NCTO is a Washington, DC-based trade association that represents domestic textile manufacturers.

  • U.S. employment in the textile supply chain was 534,000 in 2021.
  • The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $65.2 billion in 2021.
  • U.S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $28.4 billion in 2021.
  • Capital expenditures for textiles and apparel production totaled $1.85 billion in 2020, the last year for which data is available.

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CONTACT: Robin Haynes

(704) 824-3522

www.ncto.org

Textile Groups Urge U.S. to Maintain Penalty Tariffs on Finished Products; Lifting Tariffs Would Cement China’s Dominance of Global Manufacturing

WASHINGTON – The Biden administration should maintain Section 301 penalty tariffs on finished textiles and apparel or risk reversing once-in-a-lifetime nearshoring trends and undermining critical investments and jobs in the U.S. and Western Hemisphere, three key American textile manufacturing groups said today.

In a formal submission to the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) office, which is conducting a four-year statutory review of the tariffs, the associations expressed strong support for the continuation of penalty tariffs on imports from China and warned of the consequences associated with removing the tariffs.

“A key aspect of [the Biden administration’s trade] policy is the need to maintain Section 301 tariffs, absent substantive improvements in China’s pervasive, predatory trade practices,” the groups said. Lifting the tariffs “would also do nothing to achieve the administration’s goal of easing inflationary pressures, as apparel prices out of China continue to hit rock bottom even with the Section 301 tariffs,” they noted.

The submission was filed by the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) and the Narrow Fabrics Institute (NFI) and Industrial Fabrics Institute (USIFI) – both divisions of the Advanced Textiles Association (ATA).  The associations represent the entirety of the U.S. textile production chain.

“For decades, China’s illegal actions have undermined virtually every domestic manufacturing sector and contributed to the direct loss of millions of U.S. jobs. These devastating state-sponsored practices include intellectual property theft as well as pervasive state-ownership of manufacturing, industrial subsidies, and abhorrent labor and human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region,” they noted. “Cancelling these tariffs would create further unhealthy dependence on Chinese supply chains and embolden future systematic trade abuses as bad actors know that the U.S. will not hold them accountable.”

The tariffs were imposed on China beginning in 2018 in response to China’s continuing IP and related trade violations. China has since failed to comply with an agreement it reached with the United States in 2020.

See the full submission here.

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CONTACT:

Kristi Ellis

National Council of Textile Organizations

kellis@ncto.org |  202.684.3091

Janelle Buerkley

U.S. Industrial Fabrics Institute/Narrow Fabrics Institute

Janelle.buerkley@textiles.org | 651.225.6948

The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) is a not-for-profit trade association established to represent the entire spectrum of the United States textile sector, from fibers to yarns to fabrics to finished products, as well as suppliers of numerous support services such as trucking, banking, chemicals, and other such sectors that have a stake in the prosperity and survival of the U.S. textile sector.  U.S. textile and apparel manufacturers produced $65.2 billion in output in 2021, and our sector’s supply chain employs 534,000 workers from fiber to finished sewn products.  NCTO’s headquarters are in Washington, DC.  www.ncto.org

The Narrow Fabrics Institute (NFI) is a division of the Advanced Textiles Association (ATA) formerly known as the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI) whose mission is to work on common interests and issues in the narrow fabrics industry.  Narrow fabrics are defined as textiles that are no more than 12 inches (300mm) in width and are made by weaving, knitting, or braiding fibers or yarns with an edge to prevent unraveling.  The primary product areas of NFI’s member companies include automotive, military, safety, transportation, medical, and others such as aerospace, industrial, pet, recreational, and electronics.  The North America market for narrow fabrics is estimated at over $335 million in annual sales.  https://narrowfabrics.textiles.org/

The United States Industrial Fabrics Institute (USIFI) is a division of the Advanced Textiles Association (ATA), formerly known as the Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI).  Member companies manufacture highly-specialized textile products, advanced materials, and components used to support a variety of high-value-added and sophisticated industries.  These include the aerospace, automotive, construction, marine, medical, military, and safety/protective gear sectors among others.  USIFI currently has 50 member companies, and its headquarters are in Roseville, MN.  https://usindustrialfabrics.textiles.org/

U.S. and Central American Textile and Apparel Groups Send Letter to Vice President Kamala Harris on CAFTA-DR Rules and China 301 Tariffs

WASHINGTON –The main textile and apparel manufacturing trade groups in the United States and Central America sent a joint letter to Vice President Kamala Harris today, outlining critical issues, such as upholding strong rules of origin in the U.S. free trade agreement with the region and maintaining China 301 tariffs on finished apparel imports, ahead of the Summit of the Americas taking place in Los Angeles next week.

The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), representing the full spectrum of U.S. textiles from fiber through finished sewn products, and the Central America – Dominican Republic Apparel and Textile Council (CECATEC), the main apparel and textile group in the region, thanked Harris for her leadership in helping drive more investment to northern Central America and for the Biden administration’s commitment to strengthening the economic partnership forged between the United States and the region, which supports 1 million collective textile and apparel jobs.

“Perhaps most critical for our collective industries is the administration’s strong support for the “yarn forward” rule of origin in the U.S.-Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), which promotes trade, investment and economic development in the United States and the region. This ensures the benefits of the agreement go to the partners in the agreement, which helps drive massive investment and certainty,” the groups stated in the letter. “The agreement’s strong rules have brought trade and investment to the region and the U.S. and allowed us to compete against highly subsidized industries in Asia often employing illegal trade practices such as the use of forced labor.”

“We continue to urge the administration to hold highly subsidized economies accountable for predatory trade practices that have blatantly undermined our collective industries and our workers. It is critical for the administration to continue to ensure the 301 tariffs remain on finished apparel products that have helped bring diversification in sourcing from Asia and provided opportunities for both U.S. and Central American workers,” they noted. “The tariffs are playing a key role in unlocking investment in the region and the U.S.”

See the full letter here.

NCTO is a Washington, DC-based trade association that represents domestic textile manufacturers.

  • U.S. employment in the textile supply chain was 534,000 in 2021.
  • The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $65.2 billion in 2021.
  • U.S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $28.4 billion in 2021.
  • Capital expenditures for textiles and apparel production totaled $1.85 billion in 2020, the last year for which data is available.

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CONTACT:

Kristi Ellis

Vice President, Communications

National Council of Textile Organizations

kellis@ncto.org |  202.684.3091

State of the U.S. Textile Industry Address

WASHINGTON, DC—National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) Chairman David Poston, who was elected for the 2022-2023 term, delivered the trade association’s State of the U.S. textile industry overview at NCTO’s 18th Annual Meeting on May 11.

Poston’s speech outlined (1) the U.S. textile industry’s resilience and significant rebound in 2021 (2) U.S. textile supply chain, economic, trade data, and (3) NCTO’s  policy achievements and priorities for domestic textile manufacturers.

A link of his remarks as prepared for delivery are included in this press statement along with a link to a data infographic prepared by NCTO illustrating the current economic status of the U.S. textile industry.

Poston is president of Palmetto Synthetics, a specialty synthetic fiber producer based in Kingstree, South Carolina.

NCTO’s annual meeting was held May 10-11 in Washington, D.C.

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NCTO is a Washington, DC-based trade association that represents domestic textile manufacturers.

  • U.S. employment in the textile supply chain was 530,000 in 2020.
  • The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $64.4 billion in 2020.
  • U.S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $25.4 billion in 2020.
  • Capital expenditures for textiles and apparel production totaled $2.38 billion in 2019, the last year for which data is available.

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Kristi Ellis

Vice President, Communications

National Council of Textile Organizations

kellis@ncto.org  |  202.684.3091

 

NCTO President & CEO Kim Glas Issues Statement on USTR 301 Tariff Review

WASHINGTON – National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) President and CEO Kim Glas, representing the full spectrum of U.S. textiles from fiber through finished sewn products, issued a statement on the U.S. Trade Representative’s statutory four-year review of the China 301 tariffs.

Statement from NCTO President and CEO Kim Glas:

“We have long advocated for the 301 penalty tariffs to remain on finished textile and apparel products from China. Not only do they increase the government’s negotiating leverage to address the Chinese government’s serious predatory trade practices that have hurt our domestic manufacturing sector and that of our free trade agreement partners for decades; they also send a strong message to China that the United States is committed to addressing systemic predatory trade practices that have undermined domestic industries and their workers.

For decades, China’s illegal actions have undermined virtually every domestic manufacturing sector and contributed to the direct loss of millions of U.S. jobs. These devastating state-sponsored practices, which include intellectual property theft, pervasive state-ownership of manufacturing, industrial subsidies, and abhorrent labor and human rights abuses in the Xinjiang region, have allowed China to dominate the global marketplace, which has had severe ramifications on American workers and our Western Hemisphere trade allies. As sourcing executives seek to de-risk out of China for these products, our sector is experiencing massive investment in the U.S. and Western Hemisphere supply chains.  In fact, we expect approximately $1 billion of investment announced in the United States and Central America this year alone, as penalty tariffs have played a key role in sourcing shifts.

We have long advocated for the tariffs to be maintained on finished textile and apparel products to ensure we address these larger systemic issues that have substantially hurt our manufacturing sector and offshored jobs.

Tariffs are a reasonable and necessary mechanism to support U.S. jobs, offset unacceptable practices, and strengthen the national economy. They help partially level the playing field for American manufacturers and workers trying to compete against unfair and illegal trade practices – ranging from intellectual property theft, forced labor, to state-sponsored subsidies – that have been perpetuated by the Chinese government.  These products have flooded the U.S. market and put our domestic producers and their jobs at risk and have significantly contributed to offshoring and the destruction of the middle-class jobs. It’s critical we maintain key negotiating leverage to address these predatory trade behaviors.

We have also strongly advocated for a fair, transparent process to remove tariffs on certain limited textile machinery, chemicals and dyes that cannot be sourced domestically to help U.S. manufacturers compete against China.

The review process, which is required by statute and being undertaken by the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, will allow domestic manufacturers to weigh in on whether removing the tariffs will be harmful and trigger USTR to do a further review.

Our position has not wavered; the U.S. must maintain Section 301 tariffs on finished products, in the absence of substantive improvements in China’s pervasive, predatory trade practices. Lifting these penalty duties will cement China’s destructive dominance of global manufacturing and will do nothing to achieve the administration’s goal of easing inflationary pressures, as apparel prices out of China continue to hit rock bottom regardless of the Section 301 tariffs.”

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NCTO is a Washington, DC-based trade association that represents domestic textile manufacturers.

  • U.S. employment in the textile supply chain was 534,000 in 2021.
  • The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $65.2 billion in 2021.
  • U.S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $28.4 billion in 2021.
  • Capital expenditures for textiles and apparel production totaled $1.85 billion in 2020, the last year for which data is available.

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CONTACT:

Kristi Ellis

Vice President, Communications

National Council of Textile Organizations

kellis@ncto.org |  202.684.3091

NCTO and Regional Associations Host Under Secretary of State Jose Fernandez at Industry Roundtable in Honduras

WASHINGTON – The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) in conjunction with regional textile industry associations, hosted Jose Fernandez, Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment, at an industry roundtable in Tegucigalpa, Honduras today.

The meeting brought together U.S. and Central American textile and apparel executives and investors to discuss trade policy priorities that support economic development in the region and bolster a co-production chain that supports more than 1 million textile and apparel workers.

The Under Secretary’s visit with leading apparel and textile manufacturing companies in the U.S. and across the region comes at a critical time, when the global supply chain has broken down and demand for ethical and sustainable sourcing is growing, presenting new opportunities for significant growth and expansion to the Western Hemisphere and out of Asia.

Textile and apparel executives with a significant stake in this co-production partnership, as a result of the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), held a roundtable discussion highlighting the need for policies that continue to support the onshoring and nearshoring of this critical supply chain, which has spurred significant job growth and economic development in the region and the United States.

Hundreds of millions of dollars of investments have been flowing into Central America, predicated on the U.S.-CAFTA-DR agreement and the co-production chain that facilitates $12.5 billion in two-way textile and apparel trade.

U.S. textile companies have made billions of dollars in investments with historic investments being made this year. The most recent comes from Gastonia, N.C.-based Parkdale Mills, the largest U.S producer of cotton spun yarn, which announced a $150 million investment in a new yarn spinning facility in Honduras in December and a substantial investment to support existing operations in Hillsville, Virginia, which will create and support 500 jobs in the two countries.

Earlier this week, ThinkHUGE publicly announced nearly $350 million in textile investments in the region, in addition to $680 million of investments in renewable energy production to further sustain this critical supply chain.

NCTO President and CEO Kim Glas said, “We sincerely appreciate Under Secretary Fernandez’s visit and discussion with textile and apparel companies today in Honduras, which underscores the Biden administration’s commitment to this critical manufacturing sector that has formed the backbone of economic development in Central America. The U.S. textile industry has invested over $20 billion dollars in the U.S. and billions more in the hemisphere over the last decade to grow economic opportunities in the U.S. and in the region.”

Glas continued, “In the midst of an ongoing global health crisis, the U.S. and Central American co-production chain continues to make sustainable investments that strengthen supply chain resilience; creates job opportunities and investment in the U.S. and the region; and mitigates the environmental and labor impact linked to Asian supply chains, as momentum grows for onshoring and nearshoring textile and apparel production.”

“This is an exciting time for the U.S. textile industry and that in the region, which is experiencing a strong rebound from COVID-19, as more public investments have been announced and will be announced throughout the year.  We are delighted to host Under Secretary Fernandez and appreciate the administration’s engagement and support for our collective industries.”

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NCTO is a Washington, DC-based trade association that represents domestic textile manufacturers.

  • U.S. employment in the textile supply chain was 530,000 in 2020.
  • The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $64.4 billion in 2020.
  • U.S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $25.4 billion in 2020.
  • Capital expenditures for textiles and apparel production totaled $2.38 billion in 2019, the last year for which data is available.

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CONTACT:

Kristi Ellis

Vice President, Communications

National Council of Textile Organizations

kellis@ncto.org |  202.684.3091

Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi visits Shawmut Corporation; Participates in New England Textile Industry Roundtable

WASHINGTON – Shawmut Corporation hosted Deputy United States Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi today at the company’s headquarters and state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in West Bridgewater, Mass., as part of the ambassador’s inaugural visit to textile manufacturing facilities in the New England area.

Ambassador Bianchi’s visit comes at a pivotal time for the U.S. textile supply chain, which produced $64 billion in output in 2020 and employed nearly 530,000 workers. Shawmut Corporation is part of the broader U.S. textile industry that has been at the forefront of a domestic production chain that has collectively manufactured over one billion personal protective equipment (PPE) items during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ambassador’s visit to Shawmut included a tour of the company’s manufacturing facility and a roundtable discussion highlighting the critical need for policies supporting a domestic supply chain and the innovative nature of the modern textile industry and its important contribution to the U.S. economy. Shawmut, a fourth-generation, family-run global advanced materials and textile manufacturer, is a global leader in automotive textile composites, innovative technical fabrics and custom laminating services, employing more than 700 employees worldwide with 10 global manufacturing plants and seven commercial offices. The company has also contributed greatly to U.S. PPE efforts, investing $20 million in a new state-of-the-art facility, which can produce up to 180 million NIOSH-approved N95 respirators and other PPE annually and created hundreds of new local jobs.

“We are honored to have hosted Ambassador Bianchi at our West Bridgewater facility on her first domestic industry trade visit,” said Shawmut CEO James Wyner. “The opportunity to discuss with the USTR office the impact of our nation’s global trade policies on the valuable and passionate work our U.S. manufacturing teams provide to their local communities, U.S.-based trade partners and the nation is critical to supporting a robust U.S. supply chain. We are thankful for Ambassador Bianchi’s commitment to understanding the challenges we face on a global scale by her visit and dialogue here today.”

Ambassador Bianchi said, “Today’s tour of Shawmut’s manufacturing facilities and the roundtable discussion with textile industry executives was an invaluable opportunity for me to see innovative U.S. textile manufacturing first-hand, to learn more about the challenges that U.S. textile manufacturing faces, and to explore ways in which the Administration and industry can cooperate to support a worker-centric trade policy.”

During the visit, U.S. textile executives spanning the fiber, yarn, fabric, and finished product textile and apparel industries participated in a roundtable with the ambassador at which they discussed the innovative achievements and competitiveness of the domestic industry and outlined priority issues in Washington, such as the importance of Buy American and Berry Amendment government procurement policies, maintaining strong rules of origins in free trade agreements and the need to address larger systemic trade issues with China.

National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) President and CEO Kim Glas said, “We deeply appreciate Ambassador Bianchi’s inaugural visit to New England to meet with U.S. textile executives and engage in substantive discussions centered around policy opportunities that help bolster U.S. manufacturing and the challenges confronting our industry. The U.S. textile industry is an extremely diverse, technically advanced and highly innovative industry that provides much-needed jobs in rural areas across the country. Sound trade policies and enforcement are essential to this manufacturing sector and its workforce.”

Glas continued: “We are grateful to Ambassador Bianchi and the entire U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) office, led by Ambassador Katherine Tai, for reaffirming its support of CAFTA-DR rules and acknowledging the importance of the co-production chain with our Western Hemisphere trade partners. We look forward to working closely with Ambassador Bianchi and the USTR office to advance policies that bolster domestic production by expanding buy American policies and providing incentives for onshoring and nearshoring production, while addressing illegal trade practices that undermine our industry’s competitiveness head on.”

About Shawmut Corporation

Founded in 1916, Shawmut Corporation is a fourth-generation, family-run, global company with locations in North America, Europe, and Asia. Shawmut uses materials innovation to improve people’s lives, employing expertise in fabric formation, coating and laminating to deliver high performance materials and components to the global Automotive, Health & Safety, Military & Protective, and Custom Laminating Solutions markets, and is the largest independent laminator in the U.S. for technical fabrics. Shawmut Corporation is based in West Bridgewater, Mass., and can be found online on LinkedInFacebook and, Instagram. To learn more, visit www.shawmutcorporation.com.

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NCTO is a Washington, DC-based trade association that represents domestic textile manufacturers.

  • U.S. employment in the textile supply chain was 530,000 in 2020.
  • The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $64.4 billion in 2020.
  • U.S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $25.4 billion in 2020.
  • Capital expenditures for textiles and apparel production totaled $2.38 billion in 2019, the last year for which data is available.

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Press Contacts:

NCTO

Kristi Ellis

(202) 281-9305

kellis@ncto.org

Shawmut Corp.

Jon Platz

(781)223-4112

jplatz@shawmutcorporation.com

Aurora Specialty Textiles Group in Expansion Mode in Industrial Textiles

Aurora Specialty Textiles Group, Inc., a global leader in coating, dyeing and finishing of woven, non-woven and knit fabrics, has proven that resilience and an innovative spirit can propel a company to new heights, even during one of the most challenging times in the industry’s history.

Aurora was originally founded as a cloth prep facility in Aurora, Illinois in 1883. The company has since evolved and flourished as a domestic manufacturer, transitioning first into textile dyeing and finishing in the 1920s, then into textile coating capabilities in the 1950s.

In 1977, Aurora was purchased by Meridian Industries, Inc., a privately owned manufacturing holding company comprised of five operating entities, including Majilite, Meridian Specialty Yarn Group, Inc., Kleen Test Products Corporation, and Kent Elastomer Products Inc.

The company continued to expand through the following decades and in 2015 invested in a new state-of-the-art, wide-width coating and finishing line and a new facility in Yorkville, Illinois that dramatically expanded their ability to serve customers and new markets.

Today, Aurora offers a complete portfolio of products, including digitally-printable textiles, specialty home products, tape-backing products and technical textiles for a wide variety of industries.

Aurora President Marcia Ayala, who joined Aurora in 2006 and was named president in 2019, is leading the company on a rebranding drive, while also navigating myriad challenges, from rising raw material prices and transportation costs to a global supply chain crisis.

“The company has rebranded itself and really expanded and grown from the point of view of its manufacturing capabilities,” Ayala said.

As part of the rebranding effort, Aurora has engaged heavily on social media channel LinkedIn, posting company news and updates weekly. In addition, Aurora is currently in the process of upgrading its website.

“It has made a difference,” Ayala noted.  “We do see that we are getting more inquiries as a result of our presence and engagement on LinkedIn.”

These initiatives have helped Aurora maintain and grow business in an uneven economy roiled by the COVID-19 pandemic that has impacted the entire U.S. manufacturing and retail sectors.

Aurora’s product offerings and services are extensive.

The company’s products cover a wide range of applications, from pressure sensitive tapes with a fabric backing, like gaffer’s and athletic tapes, to digitally printable textile applications such as canvases, banners and window displays and wall coverings. Other applications include power transmission belting, military, abrasives, healthcare and safety, and protective outdoor coverings.

In addition, Aurora has a range of textile finishing capabilities including fabric preparations such as bleaching, scouring, singeing and brushing/vacuuming; dyeing capabilities; pad applications to apply treatments such as fire retardant, water-repellent and anti-microbial; coating capabilities for a range of water-based coatings; and calendering, sanding and converting services.

 

Navigating the Pandemic, Rising Raw Material Costs and a Global Supply Chain Crisis

“Like many businesses, when the pandemic first hit, our business slowed considerably and was down in 2020,” Ayala said. “While we hunkered down, we continued to manufacture throughout the pandemic. We never shut down.”

Ayala said Aurora had some businesses that were resilient and remained consistent throughout the pandemic, though areas such as athletic tape and gaffer’s tape were impacted as sporting events and entertainment shut down at the height of the pandemic in 2020.

Demand and business rebounded in 2021, but with it came a whole new set of challenges triggered by a global supply chain crisis that has resulted in skyrocketing costs for freight, cargo, raw materials and chemicals.

“Transportation costs alone have doubled and tripled depending on where you are shipping it from,” Ayala said. “The challenge now is mitigating price increases as much as we can and meeting customer demand.”

“We have had to change the way we do business because of rising prices and longer lead times for raw materials. We implemented a longer time frame for forecasting and customer product demands, we are qualifying secondary suppliers, and we are requoting prices frequently due to the volatile and increasing prices of raw materials,” she added. “In some cases, we have been told from our suppliers that prices are only good for 24 hours. It has been going on for the past year and I don’t see any end in sight in the near future.”

But one challenge Aurora has managed to dodge is the labor shortage crisis that has plagued broad swaths of the manufacturing and retail sectors. Aurora employs 73 people and operates in a 120,000 square-foot facility.

“We have had very little turnover, across the board. Most of the turnover has been retirements.  I think people enjoy working here and we have a very good culture focused on employee engagement, continuous improvement and input on ideas,” Ayala noted.

 

Emerging Markets

Looking ahead, Aurora hopes to expand its offerings to the military market: “We are looking at how we can act as a subcontractor to companies that need fabric finishing or coatings, like durable water repellants or anti-microbial finishes. This is a business that we have already grown, and we are looking to expand it,” she said.

She said government procurement business under the Berry amendment is extremely important and is a topic that will be highlighted on Aurora’s newly designed website.

“Our sweet spot is Berry compliant business where we offer our coatings, bleaching, and finishing services to companies that already have fabric procured, and we can add value,” Ayala said.

“Another area Aurora is exploring, one that would fit well with its core competencies, is outdoor protective fabrics for end products like boat covers and canopies, where it can offer a wide range of polyurethane coatings or water resistance coatings,” she added.

 

Sustainability

Aurora, a Meridian Industries, Inc. company, is ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certified, and an industry leader in sustainable manufacturing practices.

The company moved into its state-of-the-art facility in 2015 and has made a significant investment on sustainability upgrades at its plant in Yorkville.

Among the upgrades to Aurora’s new facility, the natural gas and electricity components were designed to significantly reduce its manufacturing carbon footprint.

The move from its original plant in Aurora to the new plant in Yorkville led to a reduction in natural gas and electricity consumption of 4,134 metric tons of CO2. That is the equivalent of 465,178 gallons of gasoline per year or 4,523,015 pounds of coal burned, according to the company.

Over $1 million was invested in new equipment alone, including Variable Speed Drives to adjust motor speed to match demand (to prevent operating equipment running at constant full speeds), new higher efficiency boilers powered by gas, and a Building Automation System (BAS) that allows the company to schedule equipment to turn on and off automatically through a central computer, which helps reduce energy consumption.

As members of the Valley Industrial Association (VIA), which serves manufacturers throughout Northern Illinois, Aurora said it has begun sharing its sustainability management ideas with other manufacturing operations in the region and is helping them to identify ways to save energy and water resources and also reduce waste.

Aurora is a finalist in all six VIA benchmark categories, including innovation, culture, operations, safety, social responsibility and workforce development. The VIA’s “Spark Awards” will be held on April 27.

 

Onshoring/Nearshoring

 Ayala said she is very supportive of onshoring more weaving and manufacturing.

“It has been an advantage for us to be a domestic manufacturer, because of the global supply chain crisis and the issues with imported products over the past two years,” she noted. “People are starting to see more value in having domestic suppliers because of reliability, a shorter supply chain and lower costs from a transportation perspective.”

Ayala said her customers also find value in promoting products that they can label as manufactured in the U.S.

She said free trade agreements, such as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) have been beneficial and led to new exports to Canada, though over 90 percent of Aurora’s products and services are consumed domestically.

“Free trade agreements spur more domestic production of fabrics and yarns,” Ayala said.

Aurora hosted U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Congresswoman Lauren Underwood (D-Ill.) on a tour of its facility and a roundtable discussion featuring women-led manufacturing firms and union representatives in late August last year. The event was hosted by Ayala and Bruce Pindyck, chairman and CEO of Meridian Industries, Aurora’s parent company.

The visit came at a critical time as Congress was debating the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The bill, which Congress ultimately passed, includes support across Illinois communities for public transit, improvements to roads and bridges, and improved passenger and freight rail and programs.

“The fact that Ambassador Tai was willing to visit small manufacturing companies like ours and talk to us about what is important to us was impressive,” Ayala said.

“When we went on the plant tour, she was interested in our manufacturing capabilities and asked questions about what was impacting our business and how trade policy impacts our business.”

“I asked her if it was typical for a U.S. trade representative to come on a tour of a small company and talk trade policy and she said it was her own innovation and practice—to meet with manufacturers and workers around the country—instead of putting out trade policies without asking industry first how it would impact us,” Ayala said. “That made such an impression.”

 

Independent Study Highlights Benefits of U.S.-CAFTA-DR Agreement and Devastating Impact of Weakening Agreement’s Rules

WASHINGTON—The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), representing the full spectrum of U.S. textiles from fiber through finished products, issued a statement today on the release of an independent study examining the valuable economic and societal impact of the U.S.-Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), and the significant adverse impact of proposals aimed at weakening the agreement’s rules of origin.

The economic study conducted by Werner International highlights the importance of maintaining the current rules of origin in the agreement, which supports more than one million jobs in the U.S. and the region and $12.5 billion in two-way trade and has fostered significant and impactful investments in manufacturing and apparel production. The study also finds various proposals aimed at weakening the agreement’s carefully negotiated and longstanding textile rules of origin would severely harm the region and U.S. and result in massive job, investment, and export losses.

“The Werner report comes at a pivotal time, as the global supply chain crisis and concerns over forced labor in Xinjiang have sparked a shift in sourcing out of Asia and a renewed focus on nearshoring and onshoring jobs back to the Americas. As outlined in this report, the U.S-CAFTA-DR agreement is a critically important and deeply economically impactful agreement that has fostered a co-production chain for textiles and apparel supporting over one million jobs in the region and the U.S,” said NCTO President and CEO Kim Glas. “This is due to a key element of the agreement called the ‘yarn forward rule of origin,’ a unique investment-based rule that ties lucrative duty-free access to the U.S. market to investment in yarn, fabric, and cut-and-sew production in the region and the U.S.”

Glas added, “We appreciate the broad bipartisan support, including from the administration, for maintaining the essential yarn forward rule of origin and ensuring those rules are not eroded through harmful changes. This common support for preserving the provision is vital to the bipartisan efforts focused on ushering in a new era of American manufacturing prowess and economic prosperity. Conversely, the report found that weakening the rules by adding ‘flexibilities’ such as cumulation and short supply changes would exacerbate the migration crisis by devastating our industries and further tether us to our counterparts in Asia, including China.”

Jan Urlings, Vice Chairman of Werner International, stated, “In our examination of the economic and societal impact of the U.S.-CAFTA-DR agreement, we found the current benefits of the agreement support a strong and vertically integrated co-production chain that has contributed significantly to investment and economic stability in the region and the United States. A major aspect of our report examined how various proposals aimed at weakening the rules of origin would impact the region and the U.S. The data overwhelmingly demonstrates that the current co-production chain would be undermined by subsidized Asian/Chinese fabrics and yarns whether directly or indirectly through a third party, would devastate direct and indirect textile employment and investment in the U.S., the region and the entire Western Hemisphere.  It would also exacerbate enforcement issues associated with Xinjiang cotton produced with forced labor.”

The study goes on to find that if brands and retailers made a commitment to double exports from CAFTA-DR to the U.S under the current rules, it would result in an additional 180,000 U.S. textile jobs, 2.17 million new jobs in the CAFTA-DR region, and conservatively $6 billion in new investments in the U.S. and region.

Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), Textile Caucus Co-Chair, stated, “Imports from China and other countries that use forced labor and other predatory trade practices have crippled our manufacturing industries and destroyed millions of U.S. jobs. The manufacturing of cotton products and other goods from Xinjiang have tainted our supply chains and helped perpetuate the Chinese Communist Party’s continued human rights atrocities. As global supply chains are recalibrating to nearshore and onshore textile and apparel production chains under the rules of origin in our Hemispheric trade agreements, we must strongly reject efforts to erode those essential rules that support textile and apparel jobs in the U.S. We must not allow China backdoor access to these critical markets, which will further hurt our own industries and reward China and other countries with direct and indirect preferential tariff access.”

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC), Textile Caucus Co-Chair, stated, “The global supply chain crisis triggered by the coronavirus pandemic has exposed our severe overreliance on China.  This report showcases that onshoring and nearshoring of this critical production chain is critical for the U.S. textile industry and workers in the CAFTA-DR region.  The US-CAFTA-DR trade agreement has spurred hundreds of millions of dollars of investment because of the strong rules of origin that support this co-production chain.  Any erosion of these rules would harm American producers and exacerbate the immigration crisis.  As supply chains are pivoting, we must seize on the opportunity for growth in good paying jobs in both the U.S. and the region and end our overreliance on China.”

Key Findings from Werner report:

1. Adverse consequences to adding flexibilities to/weakening the yarn forward rule:

  • Destroys U.S. and Western Hemisphere textile employment, with a total projected loss of more than 307,000 U.S. textile and cotton farming jobs and a loss of 250,000 jobs in Central America’s primary textile industry.
  • Devastates U.S. cotton farmers, currently employing 115,000 people in 18 states. Projected sales drop of 30% for U.S. and Western Hemisphere cotton growers.
  • Provides direct and indirect backdoor access to Chinese textile inputs, further perpetuating Xinjiang forced labor.
  • Chills future investment and destabilizes current investment in region. Over $1 billion in capital investments have been made in CAFTA-DR countries since 2005, which have helped create a vertical regional production chain. Weakened rules place major future and long-term U.S. investments at risk.
  • Severely undermines defense procurement under the Berry Amendment and the domestic warm industrial base supplying mission critical items to U.S. armed forces. More than two-thirds of the U.S. textile and apparel industry would be wiped out, destabilizing the domestic textile military industrial base and its ability to meet surge production in times of military mobilization.
  • Cripples efforts to construct a viable domestic/nearshoring supply chain for personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Exacerbates the flow of immigration, undermining the administration’s intended goal of spurring economic development in the region to address the root causes of outward migration.
  • Exponentially increases greenhouse carbon emissions through transpacific shipping and Asian coal-fired energy.

2. Proactive steps to help improve the competitive position of CAFTA-DR region:

  • Better coordination among lending agencies of the federal government, such as the U.S. Agency for International Development, Inter-American Development Bank, and Export-Import Bank, to ensure targeted, strategic investment in this sector and competitive low or zero interest financing and loan guarantees.
  • Support for a comprehensive infrastructure plan with targeted, high-impact investments and competitive loans to upgrade regional power grids, roads, and local ports would pay immediate dividends.
  • Provide incentives to the Western Hemisphere co-production chain for carbon emission reductions and sustainable products.
  • Ensure trade stability in the region by maintaining maximum pressure on China, including enforcing the U.S. ban on cotton and cotton products made with forced labor in Xinjiang.
  • Refrain from changing cumulation and short supply process, which would lead to a surge of third-country yarns and fabrics and displace hundreds of thousands of jobs in the region and U.S.
  • Oppose granting duty-free access and other benefits through an expansion of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program to apparel and textiles and negotiating free trade agreements with major Asian suppliers.
  • Close the de minimis loophole for imports from China that allow goods valued at $800 or less to enter duty free if imported by one person on one day.

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CONTACT: Kristi Ellis | (202) 684-3091 | www.ncto.org

Vice President Kamala Harris Shines Spotlight on Parkdale Mills Investment at White House Roundtable

Vice President Kamala Harris highlighted investments in northern Central America and the U.S. by Parkdale Mills and six other companies at a White House roundtable on December 13, part of the administration’s Call to Action to the private sector to promote economic opportunity in the region to address the root causes of migration.

Parkdale Mills, one of the largest manufacturers of spun yarn and cotton consumer products it he world, will make a multimillion-dollar investment in a new yarn spinning facility in Honduras, as well as an additional substantial investment to support existing operations in Hillsville, Virginia. This investment will help customers shift one million pounds of yarn per week away from supply chains in Asia and China and enhance U.S. and CAFTA-DR co-production resilience an dincrease regional product offerings. The new investment will create hundreds of jobs in Honduras and further support hundreds of employees in Parkdale’s Hillsville operations.

Parkdale Chairman and CEO Andy Warlick attended the Vice President’s roundtable and outlined the importance of onshoring and nearshoring, particularly in the midst of a global supply chain crisis that is forcing retailers and brands to recalibrate supply chain strategies to mitigate risk.

The co-production chain with Central America is vital to the employment and investment in the region and the U.S.

Here are some compelling facts:

  • There is $12.5 billion in two-way textile and apparel trade between the U.S. and CAFTA-DR countries, representing $3.5 billion in U.S. textile exports to the region, which resulted in $9 billion in CAFTA-DR textile and apparel exports to the United States, based on pre-pandemic trade flows in 2019.
  • The benefits of this important two-way trading structure help employ 500,000 textile and apparel workers in the CAFTA-DR region and 600,000 workers in the United States.
  • Eighty percent of all U.S. spun yarn exports go to the CAFTA-DR region, while 65 percent goes to the Northern Triangle, three CAFTA countries that Vice President Harris and the administration are examining closely.
  • Two-thirds of U.S. textile exports to the CAFTA-DR region go to the countries of the Northern Triangle. In return, 70 percent of CAFTA-DR textile and apparel exports to the U.S. come from the countries of the Northern Triangle.
  • For every $1 of U.S. textile exports, we receive approximately $2.70 in textile imports from the Northern Triangle.

This supply chain is predicated on the strong yarn forward rule of origin and other textile rules in the CAFTA-DR agreement.

Recently, administration officials from the U.S. Trade Representative’s office and the Vice President’s office met with the U.S. textile industry to reaffirm the importance of rules of origin in nearshoring production chains, helping address labor and environmental challengers and mitigating supply chain risk.

Remarkably, as supply chain issues out of Asia are on the front page, some importers are seeking so- called “relief,” and proposing to weaken the yarn forward rule of origin and other provisions in the agreement. Changing any aspect of the textile rules embedded in the CAFTA-DR agreement would give Chinese yarns and fabrics and those from other countries that are not signatories to the trade pact backdoor access to the CAFTA-DR market and jeopardize hundreds of thousands of jobs that in U.S., CAFTA-DR region and the entire Western Hemisphere.

Warlick highlighted to the vice president the critical co-production chain with the CAFTA-DR region and stressed that this supply chain is quicker, more transparent, more reliable, more sustainable, and free of the forced labor that has been widely documented in Xinjiang, China.

In terms of sustainability alone, a container coming from Central America versus China cuts greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent. On average, apparel exported from China produces 51.8 kgs of C02 per ton, compared to 18.1 Kgs of CO2 from CAFTA-DR.

Warlick offered a vision for the future of the U.S. industry and this critical co-production chain with Central America and the Western Hemisphere as a whole.

The CAFTA-DR region represents about 7 percent of global apparel and textile imports to the U.S., while China and Asia represent the vast majority of the remaining 93 percent.

By merely doubling the productive capacity and exports from CAFTA-DR, an estimated 2.4 million jobs could be created and billions of dollars in new investment could be unlocked, according to an independent analysis on the economic impact of CAFTA-DR.

NCTO continues to urge retailers and apparel brands to make long-term investments in onshoring and nearshoring production to not only avoid the next breakdown in global supply chains but to invest in strong labor and environmental standards and employment in this hemisphere.

Parkdale’s investment and anticipated investments by other NCTO members underscore how critical and valuable the co-production chain is to the economies of the U.S. and Central America.

This is an exciting time for nearshoring and onshoring these critical production chains. There is a long history in this industry with Central America and the Western Hemisphere and we have never seen an opportunity that is so ripe for these investments and further strengthening our textile and apparel co-production chain.