Acting Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Textiles, Dr. Laurie-Ann Agama, Tours U.S. Textile Industry; Participates in Industry Roundtable

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Dr. Laurie-Ann Agama, Acting Assistant U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) for Textiles, wrapped up a three-day visit of state-of-the art U.S. textile manufacturing facilities in North and South Carolina today, highlighting the importance of trade policies that bolster the competitiveness of the vibrant domestic supply chain that contributes significantly to the U.S. economy and workforce.

Dr. Agama, who advises the nation’s top trade chief on textile and apparel trade policy matters and conducts and oversees negotiations affecting textiles and apparel products, was joined by USTR textile trade officials in touring seven textile manufacturers including: Glen Raven, Barnet, Standard Textile, Parkdale Mills, Beverly Knits, Gildan, and Unifi.

Her three-day tour culminated today in an industry roundtable discussion with key textile executives hosted by Unifi, in Greensboro, N.C.

U.S. textile executives spanning the fiber, yarn, fabric, and finished product textile and apparel industries participated in the roundtable and outlined critical policies, such as: the importance of maintaining the yarn forward rule of origin in the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) and other trade agreements; advancing the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) and its importance to domestic manufacturers; closing the de minimis loophole in U.S. trade law; addressing larger systemic trade issues, particularly the use of forced labor, with China; and upholding buy American and Berry Amendment government procurement policies.

“We deeply appreciate Assistant USTR Agama’s visit to the heart of the U.S. textile industry in North and South Carolina this week to meet with U.S. textile executives and experience first-hand the breadth of the industry’s innovation, advanced sustainability practices, capital investments and critical contributions to local economies and the U.S. economy as a whole,” said Kim Glas, president and CEO of NCTO. “The three-day visit by Dr. Agama and the USTR textile team included facility tours of several NCTO member companies, all of which have made major investments in state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities that are part of a broader domestic industry supply chain that produced $65.8 billion in output in 2022 and employed 538,000 workers.”

Glas continued: “We are also grateful for Dr. Agama’s participation in the industry roundtable hosted by Unifi and substantive discussions around policy opportunities and challenges. We look forward to working closely with Dr. Agama, the USTR textile team and U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai to advance policies that provide incentives for onshoring and nearshoring production and bolstering the industry’s competitiveness, while enforcing policies that address illegal trade practices that undermine this industry.”

“The U.S. textile industry has always been resilient, innovative, and a driving force of our nation’s competitiveness,” said Acting Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Textiles Dr. Laurie-Ann Agama. “For USTR, this local engagement and conversations underscore our need to create trade policies that put workers first and promote inclusive economic growth. The spinning, knitting, and weaving operations of the textile industry are at the center of many communities across the Carolinas. This was another opportunity to hear first-hand how we trade can create jobs that allow workers, businesses, and communities to thrive”.



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

  • S. employment in the textile supply chain was 538,067 in 2022.
  • The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $65.8 billion in 2022.
  • S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $34 billion in 2022.
  • Capital expenditures for textiles and apparel production totaled $2.27 billion in 2021, the last year for which data is available.



Kristi Ellis

Vice President, Communications

National Council of Textile Organizations |  202.684.3091

Memorial Day: Celebrating American Textiles & the U.S. Military

Every Memorial Day, Americans pause to honor the lives of those who have died serving our country as a member of the U.S. military. It is a day dedicated to their heroic sacrifices based on a belief in American values and the hope for a better future. It’s also a day for celebration. As the official kickoff to the summer season, it is a day for community, barbeques, and setting our minds to the warm summer days ahead.

In the spirit of honoring our military heroes and anticipating the excitement of summer, the National Council of Textile Organizations celebrates Memorial Day with a look at some of the unique aspects of the U.S. textile supply chain and its role in serving our heroes in uniform.

The history of the U.S. textile industry’s service to the U.S. military is as old as the military itself. From the uniforms soldiers rely on for protection from the elements to the flags hoisted high above our causes, American textiles have always held a critical role in military operations and symbolism.

That history of course still thrives today. As the face of modern warfare has evolved, U.S. textile technology has kept pace by consistently developing new, cutting-edge textile technology to ensure the top performance and protection our warfighters demand and deserve. Each year, the U.S. textile industry supplies over 8,000 different types of products, ranging from advanced body amor to aircraft bodies, to our men and women in uniform, making it a key contributor to our national defense and supplies.

Further, the development of textile innovations for military use plays a critical role in U.S. textile competitiveness within the global market, while giving consumers access to sophisticated textile products useful for their everyday lives. For example, everyday products from Kleenex to Kevlar are available today thanks to military-funded research and development. And it’s no surprise that textiles developed for military use are amongst the most innovative in the world. In fact, the United States is the world leader in textile research and development, with the U.S. textile complex developing next generation textile materials such as conductive fabric with anti-static properties, electronic textiles that can monitor heart rate and other vital signs, antimicrobial fibers, and new fabrics that adapt to the climate to make the wearer warmer or cooler. To ensure that the continued research and manufacturing needed to provide high-performance textile materials to the U.S. military comes from a reliable source in times of crisis, those products must be supplied by a vibrant American textile production chain.

Still, the research and development needed to produce such innovations requires significant financial commitments. From 2012 to 2021, the U.S. textile industry invested $20.9 billion in new plants and equipment. During this time, U.S. manufacturers opened new facilities throughout the textile production chain, including recycling facilities to convert textile and other waste to new textile uses and resins.

But industry cannot carry this financial burden alone. With extreme competition from offshore manufacturers with varying ethical and sustainability practices and oversight, U.S. textile manufacturers are often left competing against low-cost suppliers with substandard environmental, workplace safety and labor practices. As we saw at the onset of COVID-19 in 2020, our reliance on such offshore suppliers and their production chains leaves the U.S. vulnerable when confronted with a health pandemic or a serious challenge to our national security.

For that reason, it is beyond necessary to bolster our industry’s efforts to equip our military through federal legislation and procurement practices that prioritize domestic manufacturing. This can be done by preserving and expanding key legislation, such as the Kissell and Berry Amendments, which require the domestic production of textiles procured by the Department of Defense and some agencies within the Department of Homeland Security.. In addition, it is critical that we support international trade arrangements and free trade agreements that spur the use of domestic content, such as CAFTA-DR. These mechanisms, combined with the industry’s history of research-based innovation, are the backbone of the more than 30,000 textile manufacturing facilities both big and small across the United States that employ over 538,000 domestic workers who are responsible for an annual output of over $66 billion. Their combined efforts make the U.S. the third largest exporter of textile-related products globally.

It is also critical that our government agencies expeditiously implement recently adopted legislation governing domestic procurement, such as the Make PPE in America Act. This legislation, which resulted from the harsh lessons learned during the supply chain crises of COVID-19, is designed to reshore and maintain a strategic personal protective equipment (PPE) production chain in the United States by requiring that the Departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs procure only PPE that is wholly made (i.e., 100 percent made in the USA, from the production of the fiber to the yarn, fabric, and finished product) and assembled in the U.S. This important legislation also requires a contract duration for federally procured PPE of no less than two years. Such long-term commitments provide domestic manufacturers with a consistent demand signal that allows them to invest, plan, develop and deliver the medical protective goods our government and nation depend on for safety and security.

It does not take much to see why U.S. textiles are a quintessential story of American spirit and industry. So, as we take this holiday to pause and celebrate our fallen heroes and the freedoms their sacrifices allow us to enjoy, let us also celebrate the rich history of American textiles as a critical part of our national defense. Thanks to manufacturing efforts such as theirs, American warfighters can rely on the highest quality, most sophisticated and dependable military uniforms, protective materials and gear that also drive the innovations for textile products average Americans use every day. By keeping critical supply chains and their research close to home, Americans are guaranteed more sustainable and reliable access to essential products when we need them most.

This Memorial Day, let’s remember the sacrifices of our fellow Americans and enjoy the life they fought to protect. As consumers, let’s prioritize American-made products and, by doing so, support our national defense and invest in our future.

Bipartisan Group of 38 Lawmakers Sends Letter to Secretary of Commerce Urging Support of Strong CAFTA-DR Rules of Origin & Warning Against Importer-led Attempts to Change Rules

WASHINGTON –A bipartisan group of 38 lawmakers sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo urging her support of the current rules of origin in the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) that are working to spur significant investment and employment in the region.

The lawmakers also warned that attempts by certain importers to amend the rules would open the back door to China and significantly harm investment in the U.S. -CAFTA region and the vibrant textile and apparel co-production chain in the U.S. and the region, which employs more than one million workers.

“The rules of origin governing textile and apparel production and trade under CAFTA-DR have clear benefits and have strengthened our regional supply chains by fostering a stable business environment where American and regional manufacturers can thrive. We strongly urge you to continue following the longstanding CAFTA-DR short supply list process, which requires requestors to submit public petitions for review, and reject requests to circumvent it,” the letter states.

“Bypassing the existing short supply petition and review system could result in non-signatory nations gaining a backdoor entrance to CAFTA-DR benefits. We fear that the People’s Republic of China (PRC), as the dominant global supplier of yarns and fabrics, would be the major winner under this proposal,” they wrote.

Please also see a press release from Rep. McHenry here quoting NCTO President and CEO Kim Glas.

The letter, made public today, was sent in advance of a Senate Finance Subcommittee hearing titled, “Economic Cooperation for a Stronger and More Resilient Western Hemisphere,” scheduled for today at 3 pm.

Many in Congress and the administration have maintained support for a strong rules-based CAFTA-DR. Most recently, U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Katherine Tai, voiced her strong support for the current CAFTA-DR rules in a special video presentation at NCTO’s annual meeting at the end of March. See her remarks here.


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

  •    U.S. employment in the textile supply chain was 538,067 in 2022.
  • The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $65.8 billion in 2022.
  • U.S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $34 billion in 2022.
  • Capital expenditures for textiles and apparel production totaled $2.27 billion in 2021, the last year for which data is available.


Kristi Ellis

Vice President, Communications

National Council of Textile Organizations |  202.684.3091

Congressional Scrutiny Intensifies Over De Minimis Loophole Bipartisan Concern Mounts

Congressional and federal regulatory scrutiny of Chinese imports entering the U.S. through a trade loophole in U.S. trade law has intensified over the past few weeks, as calls to address and potentially change a little-known legal trade mechanism known as “Section 321 de minimis” continue to gain momentum.

Key Republican and Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill, including the House Ways & Means Chairman, the Chairman of the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and senators have weighed in on this mechanism.

The de minimis provision of U.S. trade law allows a package of goods valued at $800 or less per person to come into the country duty free everyday through e-commerce. And it is now being aggressively used, letting millions of products into the U.S. market duty free that otherwise would be subject to tariffs, penalty tariffs, taxes and customs inspection.

In 2016, the U.S. government raised the de minimis threshold to $800 while the Chinese government kept its own threshold at meager $8. Since then, e-commerce shipments from China have exploded, reportedly driven in large part by Chinese e-commerce companies and other mass marketers, which have enjoyed meteoric growth.

In fact, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) estimates that we are on pace to hit over 1 billion in de minimis shipments this year alone, which equates to approximately 2.7 million shipments a day. This is estimated to be the highest spike in de minimis imports—up from 2 million shipments per day in fiscal year 2021. To provide further context to the alarming nature of this exponential growth in de minimis shipments, CBP data estimates that these shipments totaled only 150 million in fiscal 2016—the year Congress increased the de minimis threshold from $200 to $800.

Congressional leaders have recently sounded the alarm about the de minimis mechanism.

Most recently, Sen. Marco Rubio penned an op-ed published in Newsweek on the de minimis loophole that is reportedly allowing goods made with forced labor to enter into the United States unchecked and undermining the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA). Sen. Rubio says it is time to “reevaluate our nation’s de minimis standards.”

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), ranking member on the Ways & Means trade subcommittee, who is the lead sponsor of legislation aimed at prohibiting goods from non-market economies that are also on a government trade watchlist–China—from benefiting from de minimis treatment, said at a House Ways & Means hearing on May 9 that he planned to reintroduce his legislation in this session of Congress, and he appeared to gain some support from Chairman Smith.

He said companies use “creative invoicing” on imported products or shipments valued at over the $800 de minimis threshold to take advantage of the duty-free benefits and evade inspection, noting the loophole is “swallowing the exception in ways that are really detrimental to American business and the safety of American consumers.”

And in what could prove to be a defining moment, House Ways & Means Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO) agreed this is a major problem.

Their full exchange can be viewed here:

The House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) recently opened a probe into companies and brands at the center of allegations over tainted apparel tied to forced labor in Xinjiang and the reported abuse of the de minimis loophole.

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), chairman of the committee was recently on major news networks to voice concern about the aggressive use of the de minimis loophole and compliance with UFLPA. See the video clip here:

Congressman Gallagher also addressed the de minimis issue specifically in a video he released on Twitter. See the clip here:

“The de minimis exception wasn’t supposed to be a loophole for foreign businesses looking to skirt human rights legislation and taxes,” Rep. Gallagher said. “It was meant to minimize the burden on customs agents actually.”

In addition, Democratic leaders from the China Select Committee have made recent comments. See a clip here:

The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) has been highly engaged on these issues for the past four years, raising concerns about the flagrant use of de minimis to facilitate nearly 3 million packages a day to the U.S., allowing tainted and counterfeit apparel and other consumer products to bleed into the U.S. market.

NCTO has testified at congressional hearings and engaged in numerous meetings with lawmakers and U.S. trade officials. She has also raised alarm over the issues in countless interviews and several op-eds.

See Glas’ three op-eds on de minimis here:

As Glas notes in her op-eds, “At $800, the United States has one of the highest in the world. While we hold our door wide open, the Chinese government keeps its door virtually shut [to U.S. exports]. An $800 versus $8 limit is hardly a reciprocal arrangement. Instead, we’re unilaterally giving China a massive tax and trade concession. The very least we should do is match China’s threshold.”

Meanwhile, Congress passed, and the President signed into law, the ULFPA in December 2021, there has been global condemnation about the abuse of Uyghur minorities in Xinjiang, China and numerous exposés from prominent news outlets about the use of forced labor to make widely known global apparel brands and labels.

A Bloomberg report seemingly crystallized the connections through laboratory tests conducted by the news outlet that reportedly found garments shipped to the U.S. by Shein were made with cotton from China’s Xinjiang region.

This is clearly a case of two government policies—UFLPA and an outdated de minimis mechanism– working at cross-purposes. We are seeing the unintended consequence of one policy canceling out the other.

The de minimis mechanism is literally undermining efforts to hold China accountable, hurting American manufacturing competitiveness, and stifling the government’s ability to enforce the UFLPA.

Intensifying pressure on the two Chinese e-commerce giants to change their practices is a step in the right direction but to truly address the root cause of the problem, Congress should and can act to close the de minimis loophole.

Last year, the House of Representatives passed legislation with bipartisan support that is designed to close the de minimis loophole, but the legislation to date has stalled in Congress.

Closure of this loophole will prevent companies from overtly circumventing other measures to curb China’s illegal trade practices, including the 301 tariffs and the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. And help level the playing field for American textile and apparel manufacturers.

Glen Raven Hosts Deputy Assistant Secretary Jennifer Knight, Highlighting Industry’s Competitiveness, Sustainability, Capital Investments & Jobs

WASHINGTON –Glen Raven hosted Jennifer Knight, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Textiles, Consumer Goods, Materials Industries, Critical Minerals and Metals with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, at the company’s state-of-the art manufacturing facility in Anderson, South Carolina today, where the company manufactures its Sunbrella® flagship brand. The company is beginning to scale a major expansion plan started in 2021, illustrating continued investment and growth by a leader in the U.S. textile industry and its importance to the U.S. economy.

“We were honored to host Deputy Assistant Secretary Knight at our Sunbrella facility in Anderson, South Carolina to give her a firsthand experience of our advanced manufacturing facilities, sustainable initiatives, and the passionate work of our U.S. manufacturing teams,” said Glen Raven CEO Leib Oehmig. “The opportunity to discuss with a key trade official the impact of our nation’s global trade polices on our company and our dedicated workers is invaluable. We highlighted the importance of Glen Raven’s contribution to our local communities, as well as the critical need to maintain a domestic textile and apparel industry and to promote policies that support a resilient and competitive supply chain, innovation and research and a vibrant and well-trained workforce. We are thankful for Deputy Assistant Secretary Knight’s commitment to understanding the challenges we face in the global trade arena and appreciate the dialogue we had with her here today.”

“Public-private sector engagement is key to supporting a competitive and resilient textile and apparel supply chain and I am pleased to visit Glen Raven, a prime example of our modern domestic textile industry with its state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities for high-performance fabrics,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary Knight. “ITA continues to support American manufacturers and recognizes the importance of building an innovative, diverse and skilled workforce.”

Glen Raven, a family-owned company founded in 1880, operates five manufacturing facilities in North and South Carolina employing 2,500 people, including their joint venture with Shawmut Corporation. The company is currently in the process of scaling a $250 million multi-phase U.S. capacity expansion plan of its facilities and infrastructure to meet customer demand.

At Glen Raven, Knight toured Glen Raven’s Sunbrella® facilities, part of the company’s Custom Fabrics division, which includes flagship brands Sunbrella® and Dickson®. Glen Raven also has two other divisions, including Glen Raven Technical Fabrics with GlenGuard®, StrataTM and Glen Raven Logistics; and Trivantage, one of the nation’s largest business-to-business distributors for the awning, marine, upholstery and shade sail industries.

Glen Raven is a leader in the upholstery, marine, shading, automotive, military, geotextile, and protective workwear markets and operates national distribution and logistics subsidiaries.

Knight’s visit to Glen Raven’s Sunbrella® facilities comes at a critical time for the company and the U.S. textile supply chain, which produced $65.8 billion in output in 2021 and employed 538,000 workers. Glen Raven is part of the broader textile industry that is a critical manufacturing segment contributing to job growth, investments, and innovation. From 2012-2021, capital investment in U.S. yarn, fabric, apparel & sewn products manufacturing totals $20.9 billion.


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

  • U.S. employment in the textile supply chain was 538,067 in 2022.
  • The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $65.8 billion in 2022.
  • U.S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $34 billion in 2022.
  • Capital expenditures for textiles and apparel production totaled $2.27 billion in 2021, the last year for which data is available.


CONTACT: Kristi Ellis

(202) 684-3091

American Textiles Sustainability Achievements 2023

In celebration of Earth Day, which falls on April 22 each year, the National Council of Textile Organizations is sharing media coverage and highlights of sustainable achievements and developments by the American textile and apparel industry thus far in 2023.

The U.S. textile industry, its domestic suppliers, and customers are an important component of the U.S. economy and are found in every region of the country. In addition, the domestic textile industry provides numerous advantages for a greener future, including transparent supply chains with a reduced carbon footprint for American consumers and leading innovations in eco-friendly production and in environmental standards and regulations.

We are happy to share the industry’s achievements for the year thus far. American textiles continue to look for new ways to improve current production standards and invent new solutions for the future. Join us in celebrating these amazing, sustainable achievements by American textiles. Happy Earth Day!

eTextile Communications Glen Raven releases Corporate Sustainability Report April 20, 2023

Sourcing Journal Fruit of the Loom’s New Undies Use Lenzing Ecovero April 20, 2023

Nonwovens Industry Trützschler Presents Efficient Solutions for Manufacturing Fiber-Based Nonwovens April 20, 2023

Architectural Digest 7 Sustainable Materials and Products Designers Should Know About Right Now April 20, 2023

AP News HanesBrands Makes Significant Progress Toward its 2025 and 2030 Global Sustainability Goals April 20, 2023

AP News Milliken & Company Marks Five Years of Progress in 2022 Sustainability Report, “FOR HUMANKIND” April 19, 2023

eTextile Communications Lenzing expands responsible viscose fiber portfolio with new offering April 13, 2023

eTextile Communications Teijin supports JCI’s call for stronger action on climate, energy crises April 13, 2023

eTextile Communications Teijin Frontier facilitates recycling of discarded polyester apparel April 13, 2023

Media Africa 247 The LYCRA Company Launches LYCRA EnviroFit™ Fiber at INDEX™ 23 April 13, 2023

BioFuels Digest Fruit of the Loom introduces wood fiber underwear for men April 10, 2023

Alexander City Outlook HanesBrands’ Chief Sustainability Officer Offers Tips on Becoming a More Conscious Consumer Ahead of Earth Day April 12, 2023

Textile World Teijin Frontier Facilitates Recycling Of Discarded Polyester Apparel With Novel Technology For Removing Polyurethane Elastomer Fiber April 10, 2023

Sourcing Journal Lenzing Taps 3 Mills to Produce Mechanically Recycled Tencel April 7, 2023

Business Wire The LYCRA Company Launches LYCRA EnviroFit™ Fiber at INDEX™ 23 April 13, 2023

HanesBrands HanesBrands Awarded U.S. EPA Energy Star Award for Environmental Stewardship for 14thConsecutive Year March 29, 2023

Inside Fashion Live Cone Denim Establishes Certified Recycled Cotton Supply Chain March 23, 2023

Furniture, Lighting & Décor Glen Raven Inc. to Eliminate PFAS Chemicals Across Entire Portfolio March 22, 2023

Sourcing Journal Lycra’s Global Factories Achieve High Higg Assessment Marks March 22, 2023

Sourcing Journal Glen Raven to Remove PFAS from its Fabrics March 21, 2023

Sourcing Journal’s Rivet YKK NAMED ‘SUPPLIER ENGAGEMENT LEADER’ BY CDP March 16, 2023

Textile World YKK Recognized As A Supplier Engagement Leader, CDP’s Highest Rating For Supplier Engagement On Climate Change March 15, 2023

WISNews TENCEL™ showcases innovative fiber applications and new textile trends at leading tradeshows March 15, 2023

Sourcing Journal Tencel Luxe Starred on the Oscars Red Carpet March 13, 2023

Sourcing Journal Milliken Scrubs PFAS from Fibers and Finishes March 7, 2023

Environmental Leader Made of Strong Fiber: UNIFI Surpasses Recycling Goal in Spite of Apparel Industry Disruption March 3, 2023

Sourcing Journal Unifi CEO: Tech Investments, Textile Upcycling Advance Carbon Reduction March 3, 2023

Textile World Under Armour Announces New Methodology to Measure Fiber Shedding February 28, 2023

AP News UNIFI®, Makers of REPREVE®, Publishes New Sustainability Report – Company Aims to Transform 50 Billion Plastic Bottles by 2025 February 22, 2023

ATA Specialty Fabrics Review Milliken & Co. eliminates PFAS from portfolio February 22, 2023

PT Online K 2022 Additives & Materials: Sustainability in the Lead February 21, 2023

Textile World Lenzing And NFW Partner To Provide Sustainable Leather Alternatives For Fashion February 20, 2023

Textile World Teijin Named “Excellent Company For Sustainability” By S&P Global February 20, 2023

The Hill Nearshoring textiles has been a success: Here’s how we can do even better February 18, 2023

Market Screener Lenzing AG: Together with partners, Lenzing succeeds in reaching a milestone in the development of a circular-based fashion collection February 14, 2023

3BL Media HanesBrands Reaches Solar Energy Milestones February 13, 2023

NCTO TIN Blog Unifi’s Meredith Boyd on Sustainability February 13, 2023

NCTO TIN Blog LYCRA’s Jean Hegedus on Sustainability February 13, 2023

NCTO TIN Blog Gherzi USA’s Bob Antoshak on Sustainability February 13, 2023

NCTO TIN Blog BASF’s Ray Daniels on Sustainability February 13, 2023

eTextile Communications Dovetail Workwear partners with CiCLO® sustainable textile technology February 8, 2023

Endurance Sportswire Polartec Introduces Shed Less Technology to Reduce Textile Fiber Fragment Shedding February 7, 2023

eTextile Communications Archroma now upcycling textile waste into colorful dyes January 26, 2023

WL Gore & Associates Membrion Announces Its Collaboration With W. L. Gore & Associates to Develop Ultra-thin Ceramic Ion Exchange Membranes for Energy Efficient Desalination of Harsh Wastewater Streams January 25, 2023

Elevate Textiles Sustainability is woven into our very DNA at Elevate Textiles

NCTO’s Textiles in the News Fashion’s environmental governance begins with nearshoring and onshoring January 20, 2023

Fashion United How could fibre recycling become mainstream? In conversation with Lenzing’s veteran Michael Kininmonth January 20, 2023

Access Wire Gildan Included on the Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations List by Corporate Knights’ January 19, 2023

eTextile Communications Burlington Performance Apparel introduces biobased stretch fabric collection during OR January 12, 2023

TMC Net HanesBrands Recognized for Sustainability Leadership, Earning A- Scores in Both Climate Change and Water Security From CDP January 10, 2023

Apparel News Unifi’s Textile Takeback Program Aims to Change the Fate of Polyester January 5, 2023

On the Record with Bill Jackson

I first met Bill Jackson as a reporter with Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) in Washington, covering the impact of trade policy on textile and apparel manufacturers and retailers for a trade publication known as the “Bible of Fashion.”

Flashing those credentials did not automatically open the doors on Capitol Hill or within the various federal agencies spanning three administrations, though they were the golden ticket to the glittery runways and showrooms on Seventh Avenue and the hallowed fashion ateliers of Paris and Milan.

But as I became acquainted with administration officials in the agencies crafting policies impacting the industry as a whole, the doors began to open a little wider.

Bill became Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Textiles (AUSTR) in April 2016, according to his official USTR bio, and I met him for the first time at an industry event that I was covering for WWD.

I was on deadline for the story, and it would have been a coup for a trade reporter to get a quote from an important trade official and insider like Bill. But Bill declined the interview request at the time, with a grin and an “I know better than to speak to a reporter” glint in his eye.

Obtaining a quote from Bill became my mission over the years and though I probably did ultimately score a quote on the record from him, it was a rare occurrence.

And it remained that way until the close of NCTO’s 19th Annual Meeting on March 30, when Bill, who was a day shy of retirement, agreed to answer a few questions from me (now VP of Communications for NCTO) about his tenure as AUSTR of Textiles and his outlook for the U.S. textile industry.

NCTO: What have you learned about the textile industry during your tenure at USTR?

BJ: I think the key thing about the textile industry that people don’t know about is that it’s really a cutting-edge industry. There are so many things going on that are cutting-edge technologies ranging from a variety of health applications to fire retardants, to uniforms for the military and first responders. And people have this dated sense that it’s just yarns, or just some old-fashioned materials but it’s really cutting edge. I’ve seen that firsthand in facilities throughout the United States, including NCTO members.

I think it’s an industry that has a bright future. It has a lot of challenges, but those challenges are being tackled with the industry and in partnership with the government, and hopefully Congress will get behind some of these new initiatives. I’m hopeful for this industry to be the model for Made in USA manufacturing.

NCTO: What has been your biggest surprise about the industry—a preconceived idea you had about it that changed after your onsite factory tours and seeing firsthand what this industry is capable of innovating?

B.J.: I think it’s probably been the way in which the industry has a lot of flexibility and the way it has adapted. Many of these companies date from the 19th Century and yet they have innovated and changed their production techniques; they’ve changed their product lines and they are thriving today.

And we saw the ability of the flexibility during the PPE pandemic when they all got together– including some companies that compete against each other– to find a way to create Made in USA PPE during that national emergency. I think again these companies may be old, but they are experienced, they are innovative, and they are positioned for the future.

NCTO: While promoting policies that bolster Made in America and domestic production is critical, there is also a co-production chain with Central America and the region that is vitally important to our member companies. Can you speak to that as well as the importance of the yarn forward rule in CAFTA?

B.J.: I remember NCTO did a press release a few years ago just before Christmas, saying that when you are looking to buy gifts, don’t just look for Made in USA. Please look for Made in USA but when you see something made in Central America and it says Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, those products probably have a substantial amount from U.S. manufacturing—the fibers, yarns and fabrics.

And that is one of the reasons why we think the partnership in that co-production from U.S. domestic manufacturers and apparel manufacturing in Central America is so important. It is a potential way of our meeting some challenges we have right now with some of the supply chains to bring production closer to our shores.

There is no question that that Biden-Harris administration fully supports the yarn forward approach to rules of origin in our free trade agreements. We heard Ambassador [Katherine] Tai, say that in her remarks this morning. CAFTA-DR really is the cement that holds together the supply chain and yarn forward is the core of that.

Bill was referring to an exclusive pre-recorded message from U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, which included the following remarks:

“Manufacturing is rebounding faster than it has in almost 40 years.  And a record 10.5 million small businesses were created in the last two years.

Trade plays an integral part in this new story.  

We’re incentivizing U.S.- and regionally-based production and reducing our reliance on products and inputs from distant shores, a vulnerability that the pandemic so clearly brought to light. 

We’re factoring in the impact of trade on rural and disadvantaged communities, including those in which many of you operate.

And through Vice President Harris’ Call to Action initiative, we’re challenging companies to invest in the textile sectors in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

We’ve already seen over a $1 billion in new commitments to invest or source from the region, which will help to bolster the North American supply chain and address increased migration pressures from Central America.

A lack of economic opportunity is clearly one of the pressures behind migration, and we know that the textile and apparel sectors present significant opportunities for expanded employment, especially for women.  And as part of our commitment to ending the race to the bottom, we want those jobs to be in safe facilities, where basic worker rights are upheld. 

Not only will these investments and sourcing commitments help increase economic opportunities in those countries, they will also promote greater near-shoring and support American jobs that provide the yarns and fabrics that go into Central American apparel production. 

Make no mistake—we know how important the yarn-forward rules of origin are for the success of our trade partnership with the region.  Those rules provide the certainty that companies need to invest in and expand operations, which also creates good-paying jobs both in the United States and in Central America.” –Ambassador Katherine Tai

The administration’s support of a worker-centric trade agenda that supports domestic and regional manufacturing and workers and strives to create a level playing field to enable the industry to meet global challenges head on, is critical.

The U.S. textile industry faces a multitude of challenges, ranging from efforts by certain importers to weaken the CAFTA-DR rule of origin (which would adversely impact the U.S. and Central American co-production chain) to competing with imports in a global apparel supply chain tainted by forced labor apparel from Xinjiang, China.

But this industry has remained resilient for more than 100 years and will continue to contribute strongly to the U.S. economy by coordinating closely with USTR and other key agencies and its allies on Capitol Hill.

Perhaps fittingly, the final word should go to one of the lieutenants at USTR who worked behind the scenes to tirelessly address textile-related issues throughout his tenure.

From Bill Jackson’s post on LinkedIn:

“Nearly 39 years after taking my oath of office at the State Department, and 21 years after starting work at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, today is my last day of service with the federal government. I’ve traveled the world, helped set up UN peacekeeping operations in three countries, and negotiated trade agreements. Now I’m looking forward to new adventures, including volunteering in the community, learning new things, and spending more time with my family (whether they like it or not). Thanks to all who have supported and mentored me over the years.”


Sustainability & the Domestic Supply Chain: BASF

Seed Sustainability Marketing Manager (North America) Ray Daniels discusses how BASF‘s e3 sustainable cotton program offers partnerships & digital tools for farmers to bolster sustainable practices, ensure healthy seed & soil management & provide traceability for raw materials used to develop textile & apparel products.

Sustainability and the Domestic Supply Chain: Unifi

Unifi’s Meredith Boyd describes how Repreve has made Unifi a leading innovator in manufacturing sustainable synthetic & recycled performance fibers. Hear more from her & other industry experts during NCTO’s webinar 10am on 2/15.

This special event is scheduled for 10 am on Wednesday, February 15, and will feature a panel of industry experts from Unifi, BASF, The LYCRA Company, and Origin USA. 

Register today:

Sustainability & the Domestic Supply Chain: The Lycra Company

Sustainability Director Jean Hegedus explains what gives  The LYCRA Company an advantage in eco-friendly production. Hear more from her and other industry experts during a special webinar on sustainability hosted by NCTO at 10am on Feb. 15. 

This special event is scheduled for 10 am on Wednesday, February 15, and will feature a panel of industry experts from Unifi, BASF, The LYCRA Company, and Origin USA. 

Register today at: