NCTO President & CEO Kim Glas Testifies at U.S. Trade Representative’s Hearing on Proposed 301 Tariff List

WASHINGTON, DC – National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) President and CEO Kim Glas is testifying at a public hearing today in support of the administration’s efforts to crack down on China’s abuse of intellectual property rights through the use of the Section 301 mechanism, while also calling on the administration to include finished apparel and home furnishings in any retaliatory tariffs against China.

Glas is joining several other NCTO member companies today to testify at a U.S. Trade Representative hearing as part of the administration’s consideration of the Tranche 4 of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. imports from China.

“If the United States truly wants to resolve China’s rampant IPR abuse, pillar sectors of the Chinese economy will need to be included on the 301-retaliation list,” Glas said in prepared remarks for today’s USTR hearing. “Leaving sectors that are highly sensitive within China’s economy off the list has actually weakened U.S. leverage throughout the negotiating process, delaying a long overdue remedy to this systemic trade problem.”

“To effectively respond to China’s predatory practices in our sector, we believe the administration needs to address the exports from China that are disrupting our market and distorting trade: exports of end items to the United States,” Glas said.

Finished apparel, home furnishings and other made-up textile goods equate to 93.5 percent of U.S. imports from China in our sector, while fiber, yarn and fabric imports from China only represent 6.5 percent, according to government data.

NCTO is “pleased the proposed Tranche 4 includes finished imported items from China, which have the most significant impact on U.S. employment, production and investment,” Glas said.

“We believe this move will lead to the re-shoring of production to the United States and the Western Hemisphere production platform—and will also address and mitigate China’s rampant trade distortions,” she added.

However, Glas said the industry has serious concerns that certain inputs “already vetted by the administration and removed from previous retaliatory tariff lists are back on this list for proposed duties. These inputs include but are not limited to: machinery, dyes and chemicals and textile components not available domestically, like rayon staple fiber.”

“Adding tariffs on imports of manufacturing inputs that are not made in the U.S. in effect raises the cost for American companies and makes them less competitive with China,” Glas said, calling for the earlier exclusion reviews to be upheld. In addition, Glas also urged the U.S. government to institute a fair, transparent and expeditious exclusion system for all retaliation tranches.

 

NCTO is a Washington, DC-based trade association that represents domestic textile manufacturers, including artificial and synthetic filament and fiber producers.

  • U.S. employment in the textile supply chain was 594,147 in 2018.
  • The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $76.8 billion in 2018.
  • U.S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $30.1 billion in 2018.
  • Capital expenditures for textile and apparel production totaled $2.0 billion in 2017, the last year for which data is available.

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CONTACT: Kristi Ellis

(202) 684-3091

www.ncto.org

NCTO & Member Companies Testify at U.S. International Trade Commission Hearing on Proposed 301 Tariff List

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) and several of its member companies are set to testify at the U.S. Trade Representative’s nearly two-week long hearing on the proposed Section 301 tariff list as part of the administration’s ongoing review and consideration of the Tranche 4 of retaliatory tariffs on U.S. imports from China.

Daniel Nation, Director of Government Relations for Parkdale Mills, a member of NCTO, will kick off the U.S. textile industry’s testimony on the first day of the hearing.

China’s rampant abuse of intellectual property rights and intellectual property theft has spanned decades at the direct expense of the U.S. textile industry and its supply chain, largely contributing to the U.S. trade deficit with China in textile and apparel products—totaling $46.5 billion in 2018—and the loss of 1 million manufacturing jobs in this critical sector.

“There is little doubt that China’s extreme position in the global textile and apparel marketplace has been advanced by an elaborate system of illegal practices, that include state sponsored subsidies, unethical labor and environmental practices and theft of intellectual property,” Nation said in prepared remarks for today’s USTR hearing. “Consequently, Parkdale supports the existing Section 301 case against China.”

However, Nation stressed the effectiveness of the administration’s case has been “greatly diminished through the omission” of finished textile and apparel products from the various retaliatory tariff lists.

“Including finished textile and apparel products on the 301 retaliation list would greatly enhance the administration’s leverage in the ongoing negotiations and help redirect trade in this sector to the Western Hemisphere,” Nation said. The Western Hemisphere is a top export market for the U.S. textile industry, representing $15.7 million in textile and apparel exports.

“NCTO is pleased the proposed Tranche 4 includes finished imported items from China, which have the most significant impact on U.S. employment, production and investment,” said NCTO President and CEO Kim Glas, who is scheduled to testify at the hearing on June 20. “We believe this move will lead to the re-shoring of production to the United States and the Western Hemisphere production platform.  It’s critical we address and mitigate China’s rampant trade distortions.”

“While NCTO members support the inclusion of finished products in Tranche 4, we are seriously concerned that certain inputs already vetted by the administration and removed from previous retaliatory tariff lists are back on this list for proposed duties,” Glas noted. “Adding tariffs on imports of manufacturing inputs that are not made in the U.S. such as certain chemicals, dyes, machinery and rayon staple fiber in effect raises the cost for American companies and makes them less competitive with China.  We firmly believe the integrity of the earlier exclusion process should be upheld.”

“We also urge the U.S. government to institute a fair, transparent and expeditious exclusion system for all retaliation tranches,” Glas added.

“Lastly, we want to flag that the administration’s 301 efforts are being undermined by shipments under the $800 Section 321 de minimis threshold, which are not subject to the retaliatory tariffs – or any tariffs.  Section 321 is a substantial and growing loophole that gives China backdoor duty-free access to the U.S. market at a time when the administration is spearheading efforts to address China’s unfair trade practices,” Glas said.  “This should be rectified both in the 301 and broader context.”

NCTO and its member companies are strongly encouraging the USTR’s office and President Trump to adopt the following recommendations:

  • enact the proposed 25% penalty tariffs on finished apparel items and other sewn products;
  • maintain the previous product input exemptions that were vetted by the U.S. government and granted and excluded from previous tranches;
  • institute a transparent, fair and expeditious exclusion system for all tranches;
  • and apply 301 retaliatory tariffs to Section 321 de minimis shipments.

 

NCTO is a Washington, DC-based trade association that represents domestic textile manufacturers, including artificial and synthetic filament and fiber producers.

  • U.S. employment in the textile supply chain was 594,147 in 2018.
  • The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $76.8 billion in 2018.
  • U.S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $30.1 billion in 2018.
  • Capital expenditures for textile and apparel production totaled $2.0 billion in 2017, the last year for which data is available.

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CONTACT: Kristi Ellis

(202) 684-3091

www.ncto.org

 

NCTO & AAFA Unite in Letter to President Opposing Proposed Tariffs on Mexico

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) and American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) sent a letter to President Donald J. Trump, opposing the proposed escalation in tariffs for all U.S. imports from Mexico. As the representatives of the apparel and textile supply chain, the organizations represent hundreds of thousands of American jobs dependent on duty-free trade in the North American region.

The full letter can be downloaded here.

Signed by the heads of both organizations, the letter states: “Raising tariffs on U.S. imports from Mexico will hurt U.S. workers. Currently, hundreds of thousands of American workers are deployed in production and other key value chains that depend on the North American trade partnership with Mexico, which is the market for half of all U.S. textile exports.”

“NCTO is joining with AAFA today in urging President Trump to refrain from imposing tariffs on U.S. imports from Mexico, an issue that is critically important to our integrated Western Hemisphere supply chains,” said NCTO President and CEO Kim Glas. “Mexico is the top export market for U.S. fiber, yarns, and fabrics and adding tariffs on Mexican imports of apparel and home furnishings will only hurt the U.S. textile industry’s growth and competitiveness and jeopardize jobs in both countries.”

“Further, these planned tariffs disrupt and distract congressional passage of the pending U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), a key administration priority, which not only strengthens the textile industry’s existing supply chain and our free trade partnership with Mexico, but also helps to expand it,” Glas added. “We urge the administration to support American workers by not imposing tariffs on U.S. imports from Mexico and helping get USMCA over the finish line.”

“AAFA and NCTO often have different ideas when it comes to trade policy, however we are totally united in opposition to the proposal to add tariffs on our products,” said Rick Helfenbein, president and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association. “Potential tariffs on Mexico are an unwelcome and unnecessary tax on American workers and consumers at a time when we should be focusing on the ratification of the USMCA. Mexico is the eighth largest supplier of apparel and seventh largest supplier of footwear to the U.S. market, with 35 percent of men’s and boy’s jeans and 15 percent of work boots coming from south of the border. This move threatens our trade relationship with Mexico and the competitive advantage that supports hundreds of thousands of American jobs in the apparel, footwear, travel goods, and textile industries. We do not believe that immigration policy and trade policy should be cut from the same cloth.”

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About the National Council of Textile Organizations

NCTO is a Washington, DC-based trade association that represents domestic textile manufacturers, including artificial and synthetic filament and fiber producers.

  • U. S. employment in the textile supply chain was 594,147 in 2018.
  • The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $76.8 billion in 2018.
  • U.S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $30.1 billion in 2018.
  • Capital expenditures for textile and apparel production totaled $2.0 billion in 2017, the last year for which data is available.

About the American Apparel & Footwear Association

The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) is the national trade association representing apparel, footwear and other sewn products companies, and their suppliers, which compete in the global market. Representing more than 1,000 world famous name brands, we are the trusted public policy and political voice of the apparel and footwear industry, its management and shareholders, its nearly four million U.S. workers, and its contribution of more than $400 billion in annual U.S. retail sales. AAFA provides exclusive expertise in trade, brand protection, and supply chain & manufacturing to help our members navigate the complex regulatory environment and lower costs. Members gain unparalleled access to information and exclusive insights on regulation and policy, and premier opportunities for networking and collaboration.

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NCTO CONTACT: Kristi Ellis

  1. 684-3091

www.ncto.org

 

AAFA MEDIA CONTACT: Alexander Gibson

(202) 853-9356

www.aafaglobal.org

 

NCTO Raises Serious Concerns over the Administration’s Plan to Impose Tariffs on Mexico

WASHINGTON, DC – Kim Glas, President & CEO of the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), issued the following statement today in response to the administration’s decision under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to assess penalty duties on Mexico as an attempt to address the growing immigration dispute on the U.S. southern border.  The proposed 5% increase would begin on June 10 and incrementally increase to 25%, if the dispute is not resolved.

The magnitude of the trading relationship with Mexico is significant for the U.S. textile industry, representing $12.2 billion in two-way textile and apparel trade in 2018. The U.S. textile industry alone exported $4.7 billion in yarn and fabrics to Mexico last year and had a net export surplus of $3.8 billion.

As a result, Mexico is the single largest market for U.S.-made textile exports.

“We are very concerned about the impact these proposed tariffs would have on a critical and integrated supply chain for the U.S. and Mexico textile and apparel industries. Under the NAFTA agreement, the U.S. has benefited as a result of strong rules of origin that require the use of regional yarns and fabrics. As a result, the U.S. industry has made significant investment—$22.8 billion from 2006 to 2017—to help grow the manufacturing of fiber, yarns, and fabrics in the United States. NCTO supports the passage of the pending U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) because it is a critical trade agreement that will strengthen the industry’s supply chain representing approximately $20 billion in three-way trade,” Glas said.

“Adding tariffs to Mexican apparel imports, which largely contain U.S. textile inputs, would significantly disrupt this industry and jeopardize jobs on both sides of the border,” Glas said. “And as a result, it will accelerate substantially the immigration issues the administration is seeking to address.”

“In addition, this tariff increase would give a significant competitive advantage to China, which already accounts for about 38% of apparel and textile imports to the U.S.” Glas added. “In fact, if this increase goes forward it will drive business back to China at a time when the administration is trying to crack down on intellectual property abuses and make systemic trade reforms that have undermined U.S. manufacturing industries for decades. This proposal is extremely concerning to U.S. textile manufacturers and we will do all we can to amplify these concerns with the administration and members of Congress.”

Mexico and Canada together are the U.S. textile industry’s two largest export markets worldwide. In 2018, the U.S. ran a combined $3.8 billion surplus in textiles and apparel with those two North American Free Trade Agreement trading partners.

NCTO is a Washington, DC-based trade association that represents domestic textile manufacturers, including artificial and synthetic filament and fiber producers.

  • U.S. employment in the textile supply chain was 594,147 in 2018.
  • The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $76.8 billion in 2018.
  • U. S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $30.1 billion in 2018.
  • Capital expenditures for textile and apparel production totaled $2.0 billion in 2017, the last year for which data is available.

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CONTACT: Kristi Ellis

(202) 684-3091

www.ncto.org

 

NCTO Comments on 301 Tariff Increase; Renews Call for Tariffs on Textile and Apparel End Items and Need for Exclusion Process

May 8, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) appreciates the Trump administration’s action to crack down on unfair trade practices from China through the Section 301 mechanism.

A Federal Register notice, set to be published on Thursday, states the administration’s intent to raise tariffs on $200 billion of imported Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent on May 10. NCTO urges the administration to ensure an expeditious and transparent exclusion process and the inclusion of finished apparel and textile end products to this remedy.

“It’s long past time we address China’s unfair trade practices, particularly relating to intellectual property abuses,” said NCTO President and CEO Kim Glas.

“However, we remain very concerned that finished Chinese textile home furnishings and apparel are not on the administration’s retaliatory tariff list,” Glas said. “Chinese imports of finished goods into the U.S. market have the most significant impact on domestic textile and apparel production, investment and jobs. In order to address the crisis, we need to get to the very heart of the problem.”

According to U.S. government data, China predominantly ships end items to the U.S. versus intermediate inputs. Finished apparel, textile home furnishings and other made-up textile goods equate to 93.5 percent of U.S. imports from China in our sector, while fiber, yarn, and fabric imports from China represent only 6.5 percent.

“NCTO also remains seriously concerned that some inputs critical to the competitiveness of U.S. textile manufacturers remain on the retaliation list and will now face a 25 percent tariff. Duty increases on inputs alone, without addressing the growing problem of end products can raise the cost of U.S. textile manufacturers trying to compete with like Chinese products,” Glas said. “We are pleased that the administration intends to announce an exclusion process and we urge that the process be fair, transparent, and expeditious.”

For more on this issue, see: NCTO Testimony to the Section 301 Committee on August 20, 2018

NCTO is a Washington, DC-based trade association that represents domestic textile manufacturers, including artificial and synthetic filament and fiber producers.

  • U.S. employment in the textile supply chain was 594,147 in 2018.
  • The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $76.8 billion in 2018.
  • U.S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $30.1 billion in 2018.
  • Capital expenditures for textile and apparel production totaled $2.0 billion in 2017, the last year for which data is available.

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CONTACT: Kristi Ellis

(202) 684-3091

www.ncto.org

NCTO Announces New VP of Communications and Director of Regulatory & Technical Affairs

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) is pleased to announce the appointment of Kristi Ellis as the organization’s new Vice President of Communications, effective April 29, 2019, and Donald Vavala as the Director of Regulatory and Technical Affairs, effective May 2019.

As Vice President of Communications at NCTO, Kristi Ellis will assume responsibility for developing, overseeing, and implementing a communications strategy for the association and the domestic textile industry as a whole. Ms. Ellis brings 24 years of manufacturing and international trade reporting experience with leading publications such as Women’s Wear Daily and S&P Global Market Intelligence. The majority of her career, which includes nearly 10 years as Washington Bureau Chief for Women’s Wear Daily, has been spent reporting on textile trade policy matters. Regarding her appointment, Ms. Ellis said, “I am really excited and grateful to have the opportunity to help develop and shape NCTO’s communications strategy as we work to amplify the textile industry’s importance as a thriving and innovative manufacturing sector in the United States.”

As NCTO’s Director of Regulatory and Technical Affairs, Don Vavala will support all association activities related to federal government procurement and industry regulatory matters. In this capacity, Mr. Vavala will staff various NCTO committees covering a broad spectrum of contracting, technical, and environmental issues. Mr. Vavala comes to NCTO following a 31-year career at W.L. Gore, a NCTO member organization, where he most recently held the position of Director, Military Government Affairs. He will succeed Hardy Poole, who announced his resignation from the same position at NCTO, effective May 2019. Regarding his appointment, Mr. Vavala stated, “I am very excited about the opportunity to work with Ms. Glas and the staff at NCTO. The textile industry is a major component of the economic backbone of this great nation and I look forward to applying my 31 years of experience to insuring that the industry continues to thrive and maintain its status as a significant contributor to our country’s growth and prosperity.”

The hiring of Ms. Ellis and Mr. Vavala coincide with the arrival of Kimberly Glas as NCTO’s President & CEO, effective April 29, 2019. In referencing these two new hires, Ms. Glas stated, “I am excited Kristi and Don are joining the NCTO team at this important time. They both have significant experience with the textile industry and a wealth of knowledge specific to their new roles. Most importantly, both have shown a strong commitment to the success of the domestic textile industry. We are very fortunate to have them join the organization in these pivotal leadership roles. NCTO’s membership will be well served by these important staff additions.”

NCTO is a Washington, DC-based trade association that represents domestic textile manufacturers, including artificial and synthetic filament and fiber producers.

  • U.S. employment in the textile supply chain was 594,147 in 2018.
  • The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $76.8 billion in 2018.
  • U.S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $30.1 billion in 2018.
  • Capital expenditures for textile and apparel production totaled $2.0 billion in 2017, the last year for which data is available.

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CONTACT: Rebecca Tantillo
(202) 822-8026
www.ncto.org

NCTO Advisory to the Trade — April 18, 2019
The Berry Amendment

The Berry Amendment

 Background

The Berry Amendment is a statutory requirement that restricts the Department of Defense (DoD) from using funds appropriated or otherwise available to DoD for procurement of food, clothing, fabrics, fibers, yarns, other made-up textiles, and hand or measuring tools that are not grown, reprocessed, reused, or produced in the United States. The Berry Amendment has been critical to maintaining the safety and security of our armed forces, by requiring covered items to be produced in the United States. Further, the Berry Amendment has been critical to the viability of the textile and clothing production base in the United States. Some NCTO member companies are direct contractors to DoD and have first-hand knowledge of the Berry Amendment. Others are subcontractors subject to the Berry rules. Others may be interested in learning more about the opportunities that Berry creates for U.S. fiber, yarn, fabric, apparel, and sewn products manufacturers. This brief paper is provided solely for educating the general public about the Berry Amendment as it relates to textiles and clothing. It is not intended to give specific advice in relation to the terms of military contracts.

 

The History of the Berry Amendment

Since 1790, when President George Washington told the first session of Congress that the “safety and interest” of a free people “require that they should promote such manufactures as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly military supplies,” Congress has taken a special interest in the health of the manufacturing sector.

A military domestic sourcing requirement for uniforms was passed by Congress in 1941, as part of the Fifth Supplemental DoD Appropriations Act. Prior to World War II Congress understood war was on the horizon and the original intent of the restriction was to ensure U.S. troops wore uniforms produced in the United States.

In 1952 Congressman Berry of South Dakota introduced an amendment to the DoD’s Buy American restrictions. Prior to Congressman Berry’s amendment only food and certain clothing products were covered in the restrictions. Berry’s amendment expanded the DoD’s Buy American restrictions to cover all clothing, cotton and wool (man-made fibers were subsequently added). The Amendment was included in annual defense spending bills until it was made permanent in Fiscal Year 1994 by section 8005 of Public Law 103-139. It was subsequently codified as 10 U.S.C. 2533a in 2002 by section 832 of Public Law 107-107.

 

Common Questions about the Berry Amendment

Q. Wouldn’t the taxpayers of the U.S. benefit from giving DoD freedom to acquire textile and clothing from the lowest cost source, even if that means using foreign textiles and clothing?

A. The question is aimed at misdirecting attention away from the reason for the Berry Amendment. As the history above points out, from the founding of our nation, wise leaders have understood that a free people will be free only as long as they can supply their military to maintain that freedom. The 1941 law, which later became the Berry Amendment was passed in recognition of the fact that the U.S. would only be able to win monumental conflicts, such as WWII, if it is not dependent on foreign sources for critical defense materials.

Q. Does the Berry Amendment require the U.S. government to always buy American-made textiles and clothing.

A. No, the Berry Amendment applies to the U.S. Department of Defense only. There is a similar domestic sourcing requirement for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), it is called the Kissell Amendment. Other U.S. government agencies have more flexibility with regard to acquisitions.

Q. Why just those two, DoD and DHS?

A. Under international trading rules as governed by the World Trade Organization (WTO), countries are normally required to make government procurement contracts open to supply from both domestic and foreign sources. However, these same WTO rules allow countries to restrict military and security procurement to domestic sources, only. Due to their national security role, DoD and DHS qualify for this exception. It is also important to note that in future trade agreements the U.S. needs to continue to reserve the right to require domestic sourcing in the case of the departments that are vital to our national defense — DoD and DHS.

Q. What about textile and clothing articles that DoD purchases for use by foreign defense agencies?

A. The Berry Amendment applies to all funds “made available” to the Defense Department. That includes Department of Defense procurement for a Foreign Military Sale (FMS) where the funds were provided by the customer country. So, for example, when the Afghan government provides money to DoD to acquire uniforms for the Afghan National Police, those uniforms are subject Berry Amendment U.S. sourcing requirements.

Q. Are there any exception to Berry?

A. There are two significant exceptions.

The SAT, or Simplified Acquisition Threshold, sets the base monetary amount at which Berry applies. Acquisitions below the SAT are exempt from Berry. Section 807 of the Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2005 requires an adjustment every 5 years of acquisition-related thresholds for inflation using the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The last such adjustment was in 2010, raising the SAT to $150,000. No inflation-related adjustment has since been implemented. However, the 2018 NDAA ignored the current low rate of inflation and increased the SAT to $250,000.

A DNAD, or Domestic Non-Availability Determination, to the Berry Amendment may be granted if DoD determines that items grown, reprocessed, reused, or produced in the United States cannot be acquired as and when needed in a satisfactory quality and sufficient quantity at U.S. market prices. There is language in the legislative history of the Berry Amendment indicating that Congress intended for Defense agencies to exercise extreme caution in granting waivers, a fact that has been noted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Q. Who can make Domestic Non-Availability Determinations?

A. The seriousness of Congress and the DoD in maintaining the Berry Amendment and protecting it from a proliferation of DNADs is the fact that just a limited number of officials have the authority to issue a DNAD, including The Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics), The Secretary of the Army, The Secretary of the Navy, and The Secretary of the Air Force.

Q. Where can I find a list of DNADs?

A. There is no list as such, as each determination relates to a particular set of circumstances and does not create a blanket exception to Berry with regard to some input. Questions about DNADs are best directed to the contracting officer.

 

Conclusion.

Since the days that the Greatest Generation fought to preserve our freedom from threats around the globe, our fighting men and women have been assured that whatever other hardships they may have to bear while protecting us, they would, at least, be assured of clothing, tents, shelters, and other textile products necessary to get the job done. Through all this time, the U.S. textile industry has worked with our military to equip those brave men and women with the highest quality textile products incorporating emerging smart textile technology.

NCTO Advisory to the Trade — April 4, 2019
Free Trade Agreement Benefits and YOU

Free Trade Agreement Benefits and YOU

Background

The United States has 14 free trade agreements (FTAs) with 20 nations. Two — NAFTA with Mexico and Canada, and DR-CAFTA with six Central American/Caribbean partners — are regional.  The rest are bilateral, meaning they each are between the U.S. and one partner nation. All but two — the agreements with Israel and with Jordan — contain a yarn forward rule of origin that promises, and delivers, potential benefits to U.S. fiber, yarn, and fabric producers who understand the complex rules of each agreement.

This brief paper is intended to give an overview of U.S. free trade agreements as they relate to textile and apparel products. The information presented is meant to serve as a guide. Only the agreement text and the customs regulations issued to implement the agreement are definitive. For complex issues or where interpretation is required, U.S. exporters or importers should seek professional assistance or an advanced ruling from the customs administration in the country to which they are exporting.

Understanding and Benefiting from FTAs

1. First, you must understand that each agreement has its own set of rules, and even within a regional agreement such as NAFTA, the rules may vary slightly from nation to nation. When considering participation in an FTA sourcing program do not assume that because a particular model works within one FTA that it will work in another. For example, say you have been shipping U.S.-made fabric to Colombia for assembly into apparel that will enter the U.S. duty-free. You have been using third-country rayon filament yarn, which is exempt from the yarn forward requirement because no one makes it in the region. Now, say your customer wants to move that operation to Mexico. The apparel would not quality for duty-free entry under NAFTA, because NAFTA has no such exemption for rayon filament. (By the way, the new USMCA, which NCTO supports, amends the rule to reflect the current state of unavailability of filament rayon in the region.)

2. Next, understand that each agreement is a “silo,” with limited exceptions; there is no “mix and match.” For example, you may ship U.S.-made fabric of U.S.-made yarn to Mexico for assembly into tailored apparel containing a lining fabric made in Canada, and that apparel will enter the U.S. duty free. But if you try to do that in, say, the Dominican Republic, the apparel will not qualify for DR-CAFTA because Canada is not part of that agreement.

3. Setting aside the agreements with Israel and Jordan, all the rest of the U.S. FTAs have the yarn forward rule of origin. However, it is important to know (a) how the yarn forward rule applies and (b) what, if any, exceptions there are.

(a) In all cases the yarn forward rule applies to the single fabric component that determines the tariff classification of the article in question. This is referred to as the essential character fabric.  Beyond that, some agreements have additional requirements relating to secondary textile components such as linings, narrow elastic fabrics, pocketing, and sewing thread. These rules can vary from agreement to agreement, so never assume that what is permissible in one agreement will be permissible in another. Further, as agreements are revisited to update them for changes in trade flow, and to reflect knowledge gained from seeing how other agreements have worked, these rules may be modified. For example, NCTO was successful in improving the USMCA over NAFTA by adding narrow elastic, pocketing, and sewing thread requirements. These concepts were first introduced in later agreements like CAFTA and have proven to benefit the regional supply chair, including U.S. textile producers.

(b) Each agreement has its own, unique list of exceptions to the yarn forward rule. In “trade-speak” we call them “derogations.” Derogations from the rules of origin may include such things as a cut-and-sew rule for certain very specific articles of apparel, tariff preference levels for a limited quantity of otherwise non-qualifying trade, cumulation with non-partner countries for specific inputs (such as the rule allowing certain nylon filament yarn from Canada, Israel, or Mexico in some FTAs), and a de minimis allowance for a small amount of non-originating fiber or yarn.

Why all this Complexity?

While in some ways it might appear easier to have the same rules for each agreement, there are very sound reasons for this complexity. Each agreement is the result of the compromises reached between the U.S. and the member partner(s); perhaps the U.S. decided to grant a particular concession to one nation in order to bring the negotiation to completion, or as a reflection of historic bilateral trading patterns, that certainly does not justify granting the same concession in another FTA merely for the sake of uniformity. Uniformity would, almost certainly, result in settling on the lowest common denominator and would erode hard-fought gains to require, as much as practical, regional, including U.S.-made, textile inputs to products enjoying FTA benefits.

Conclusion.

The United States is especially well-positioned globally in fiber, yarn, fabric, and non-apparel sewn products markets; it was the world’s second largest individual country exporter of those products in 2018.  The most important U.S. export markets by region are our FTA partners, NAFTA ($11.7 billion in U.S. exports) and DR-CAFTA ($3.5 billion in U.S. exports).

NCTO has long supported the yarn forward rule for textiles and apparel, with extremely limited derogations, as the key to creating opportunities for producers throughout the supply chain and reserving the benefits of a given FTA for its signatories. The regional fiber, yarn, fabric, to finished product supply chain offers U.S. textile producers significant opportunities to sell U.S.-made product into FTA markets — provided U.S. textile manufacturers learn how to use these agreements to their advantage.

NCTO Advisory to the Trade — March 28, 2019
The USMCA, Side-by-Side Comparison with NAFTA

The USMCA, Side-by-Side Comparison with NAFTA

Background

In talks launched in August 2017, the Trump administration initiated a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the aim of improving the deal to better serve American manufacturing interests.  NCTO supported the renegotiation effort as a means to modernize the 24-year-old agreement and make common sense updates designed to bring more employment, production, and investment back to U.S. manufacturing sectors such as textiles. Specifically, NCTO advocated for the following improvements as part of the NAFTA renewal negotiation.

  • Maintain yarn forward as the fundament rule-of-origin for our sector
  • Eliminate tariff preference levels (TPLs) on apparel, non-apparel sewn products, fabrics & yarn
  • Require use of NAFTA-origin components beyond the “essential character” of the fabric – i.e. sewing thread, pocketing & narrow elastics
  • Strengthen buy American laws for Dept. of Homeland Security textiles & clothing by closing the Kissell Amendment loophole for Canada & Mexico
  • Strengthen customs enforcement

We are pleased that the majority of our stated objectives were accomplished in the agreement reached between the parties late last year under what has come to be known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).  Especially the fact that the basic yarn forward rule was preserved as the origin requirement for duty-free treatment.

What Does This Means for the U.S. Textile Industry?

The USMCA was signed by all three countries on November 30, 2018. Before it can take effect the legislative bodies of each of the three nations must enact it into law. In anticipation of USMCA going into effect, a number of NCTO member companies have inquired how the new agreement may affect their current regional manufacturing and trading arrangements. The side-by-side presentation below addresses some of the topics of most direct interest to U.S. textile manufactures. It is not intended to be an exhaustive analysis of all the changes from NAFTA to USMCA.

1. General Rules of Origin

 

NAFTA USMCA
1. The rule of origin for textile and apparel products is “yarn forward” meaning yarn must be extruded or spun in the region and all subsequent processes to the finished article must be done in the region. The yarn forward rule applies to only the component that determines the tariff classification of the finished good. This is also known as the “essential character” rule. 1. The yarn forward rule is unchanged, as it relates to the essential character fabric.
2. Certain visible linings (as defined in the agreement) must originate in the region and are under a fabric forward rule. 2. The visible lining rule is eliminated. Linings may be sourced outside the region
3. Narrow elastic fabric in apparel (Chapter 61 & 62) is exempt from the rules of origin 3. Effective 18 months from the date of entry into force of the agreement, apparel containing narrow elastic fabrics of subheading 5806.20 or heading 60.02 is originating only if such fabrics are both formed and finished from yarn in the territory of one or more of the Parties
4. Sewing thread used in the assembly of apparel (Chapter 61 & 62) is exempt from the rules of origin. 4. Effective 12 months from the date of entry into force of the agreement, apparel containing sewing thread of heading 52.04, 54.01 or 55.08, or yarn of heading 54.02 used as sewing thread shall be considered originating only if such sewing thread is both formed and finished in the territory of one or more of the Parties.
5. Pocketing fabric in apparel (Chapter 61 & 62) is exempt from the rules of origin. 5. Effective 18 months from the date of entry into force of the agreement, if apparel contains a pocket or pockets, the pocket bag fabric must be formed and finished in the territory of one or more of the Parties from yarn wholly formed in one or more of the Parties. NOTE, that for Blue Jeans the transition period is 30 months.
6. Coated or laminated fabrics used in the assembly of textile made-up articles (Chapter 63) are exempt from the rules of origin. Note that this exemption related to only fabrics that meats the tariff schedule definition of coated or laminated. 6. Requires coated fabrics classified under heading 5903 to originate in one of the parties on a fabric-forward basis for Chapter 63 articles, with the exception of the following headings and subheadings:

  • 6305 – Bags,
  • 6306.12 – Tarpaulins, awnings, and sunblinds of synthetic fibers,
  • 6306.22 – Tents of synthetic fibers, and Miscellaneous made-up articles of subheading 6307.90 that are not surgical towels or national flags.

 

2. Tariff Preference Levels (TPLs)

 

NAFTA USMCA
Cotton and MMF Spun Yarn
Canada to U.S., 11.8 million kgs

Mexico to U.S., 1 million kgs

Canada to U.S. 6 million kg
(49% reduction)
with 3 million kg sub-limits for acrylic and non-acrylic yarns eachMexico to U.S. 700,000 kg
(30% reduction)
Cotton and MMF Fabric and Made-up TPL
Canada to U.S., 38.6 million sme knit
Canada to U.S., 38.6 million sme wovenMexico to U.S. 18 million sme knit
Mexico to U.S. 6 million sme woven
Canada to U.S. 38.6 sme knit
Canada to U.S. 38.6 sme woven
(both unchanged)Mexico to U.S. 18 sme knit (unchanged)
Mexico to U.S. 4.8 sme woven
(20% reduction)
Cotton and MMF Apparel TPL
Canada to U.S. 88.3 million sme

Mexico to U.S. 45 million sme

Canada to U.S. 40 million sme
(55% reduction)Mexico to U.S. 45 million sme
(unchanged)
Wool Apparel TPL
Canada to U.S. 5.3 million sme
with a 5 million sme sub-limit for suitsMexico to U.S. 1.5 million sme
Canada to U.S. 4 million sme
(25% reduction)
with a 4 million sme sub-limit for suits (24% reduction)Mexico to U.S. 1.5 million sme (unchanged)

3. De Minimis: For textile and apparel goods classified in Chapters 50 through 63, the de minimis amount for non-qualifying fibers and yarns was increased from 7% under NAFTA to 10% under the USMCA by weight of the component of the good that determines its tariff classification. Within the overall 10% cap, the total weight of elastomeric content may not exceed 7%.

4. Other Changes

(a) The three countries agreed to amend the rules of origin under the USMCA to allow for the use of viscose rayon staple and filament and yarns of jute and hemp from outside the USMCA region due to lack of availability from North American producers.

(b) USMCA closed the Kissell Amendment loophole allowing textiles and clothing purchased by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to be made in Mexico.  Under the new agreement, these goods will have to be assembled in the United States with 100% U.S.-made inputs, including all fiber, yarn, and fabric.

(c) The new agreement contains a textile-specific chapter and enhanced textile Customs enforcement language.

2019 State of the U.S. Textile Industry Address

WASHINGTON, DC – Outgoing 2018-19 National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) Chairman Marty Moran delivered the trade association’s 2019 State of the U.S. Textile Industry overview at NCTO’s 16th Annual Meeting on March 21st at the Capital Hilton in Washington, DC.

Mr. Moran’s speech outlined (1) U.S. textile supply chain economic, employment and trade data, (2) the 2019 policy priorities of domestic textile manufacturers, and (3) other NCTO activities.

A link to 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.

Mr. Moran is CEO of Buhler Quality Yarns, Corp., a fine-count yarn supplier headquartered in Jefferson, Georgia with plants and/or offices in America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

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

  • S. employment in the textile supply chain was 594,147 in 2018.
  • The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $76.8 billion in 2018.
  • S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $30.1 billion in 2018.
  • Capital expenditures for textile and apparel production totaled $2.0 billion in 2017, the last year for which data is available.

 

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CONTACT:  Rebecca Tantillo

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