U.S. Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi made an inaugural trip to meet with U.S. textile manufacturers in the New England area in late February, where she toured Shawmut Corp.’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in West Bridgewater, Mass. and participated in a substantive textile industry roundtable discussion with NCTO member executives.
During her tour of Shawmut Corp., a fourth-generation, family-run global advanced materials and textile manufacturer, Ambassador Bianchi learned first-hand about a company that has contributed greatly to U.S. PPE efforts, investing $20 million in a new facility, which can produce up to 180 million NIOSH-approved N95 respirators and other PPE annually, creating hundreds of new local jobs.
Ambassador Bianchi’s visit marked a rare opportunity for executives to highlight the critical need for policies supporting a domestic supply chain that is a major contributor to: the overall U.S. economy with $64.4 billion in textile and apparel shipments in 2020; high-tech innovation, such as heart valves and stents, aircraft bodies and advanced body armor; and our national defense, supplying over 8,000 products a year to warfighters.
The roundtable also facilitated a discussion on key policy priorities, including the importance of policies and incentives aimed at maintaining a domestic personal protective equipment (PPE) production base, the importance of the Berry Amendment, the commitment by the industry to sustainability, and the critical nature of the Western Hemisphere co-production relationship, which supports 1 million U.S. and regional textile and apparel workers.
“We look forward to working closely with Ambassador Bianchi and the U.S. Trade Representative’s [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,” said NCTO President and CEO Kim Glas, who led the roundtable discussion, in a news release.