Textile/Fiber Coalition and 165 Senators and Representatives Urge Action on China Safeguard

139 U.S. Representatives and 26 U.S. Senators signed letters urging the Administration to invoke the special textile China safeguard.

October 29, 2003
Contact: Marjory Walker
(901) 274-9030

WASHINGTON, DC – 139 U.S. Representatives and 26 U.S. Senators signed letters urging the Administration to invoke the special textile China safeguard and to not include exceptions, such as tariff preference levels (TPLs), in CAFTA that would allow China and other free-rider foreign suppliers to benefit from agreements designed to promote trade and investment between signatory countries at the expense of U.S. and regional manufacturers.  

In addition, other U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives sent individual letters to the Administration supporting implementation of the China safeguard.

Congressmen Howard Coble (R-NC), John Spratt (D-SC), Virgil Goode (R-VA), and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) sponsored the House letter.  Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Ernest F. Hollings (D-SC) sponsored the Senate letter. 

Allen E. Gant, Jr., CEO of Glen Raven Inc., said, “The united textile/fiber coalition would like to thank the Senators and Representatives who signed these letters.  These letters show there is a strong bipartisan, geographically diverse, coalition on Capitol Hill supporting the industry’s China safeguard petitions.  The time for the Administration to act on the textile industry’s China safeguard petitions is now ”

Bruce Raynor, President of UNITE stressed, “The catastrophic jobs losses in the textile and apparel industry must stop.  Many of the 314,000 textile and apparel workers who have lost their jobs since January 2001 are and were UNITE members.  The continued job losses highlight the immediate need for implementation for the China safeguard.  America’s working families are crying out for relief from the free trade policies that are exporting their jobs to China.”

Jim Chesnutt, CEO of the National Spinning Co. and Vice Chairman of American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI), remarked, “We are gratified that Members of Congress from 36 different states, representing every region of the country, have joined in urging the Administration to take these actions.  When elected officials from three-fourths of the states are sounding the alarm, it sends a powerful message about the impact trade policies will have on the 2004 election for Congress and the White House.  And if we don’t get the actions we need from our own government, I would expect that the American textile industry, which has embarked on a massive voter registration drive to get our workers to the polls, will be looking for new leadership.  We need public officials who will make sure we have an American trade policy that promotes American manufacturing first and foremost.”

Steve Dobbins, CEO of Carolina Mills and Chairman of the American Yarn Spinners Association stated, “The 60-day window for the U.S. government to approve or deny the industry’s China safeguard petitions closes on November 17.  Any delay beyond that date in making a decision will be viewed as continued indifference to the economic plight of the U.S. textile industry.  A timely and correct decision on all three China safeguard petitions is critical to the health of the industry.”

Many textile and apparel companies have engaged in letter writing campaigns and voter registration drives to drive home their concerns over the surge of low-cost imports flooding America’s shores. 

Roger Milliken, CEO of Milliken & Co. and Co-Chair of American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition said, “Milliken & Co. associates actively have lobbied their congressmen, senators and President Bush in support of the textile industry’s China safeguard petitions and have encouraged their friends and families to do the same.  These combined efforts have resulted in the transmission of approximately 30,000 e-mails and letters to Washington, DC.  Milliken & Co. has also begun a company-wide voter registration drive.”

William Giblin, CEO of Tweave Inc. and Chairman of the National Textile Association, explained, “Textile companies in the Northeast have been hit just as hard as the Carolinas by the surge of low-cost imports.  Recently, there have been announcements of major plant closings in Massachusetts and Maine.  The crisis in the textile and apparel industry isn’t regional; it’s national.  That’s why Members of Congress from California to Maine have signed letters released today.”

Geoff Schofield, President of Drake Extrusion, Inc. and Executive Committee Member of the American Fiber Manufacturers Association, added, “China continues to flaunt accepted norms for competition in international trade. The manipulation of its currency is an attack on American manufacturing and this alone calls for immediate use of quota safeguards.”

Woody Anderson, Vice Chairman of the National Cotton Council concluded, “Cotton growers are extremely concerned about the surge of imports hurting U.S. textile and apparel manufacturers.  Textile production has fallen 10 percent in just the past twelve months.  The companies that manufacture those products are our best customers and they deserve a responsive and aggressive government response to these petitions.”

The united textile/fiber coalition filed China safeguard petitions on knit fabric, brassieres and dressing gowns on July 24, 2003.  If the U.S. government approved the petitions, it could limit the growth of Chinese imports to 7.5 percent over current trade.

China’s exports of the products on the safeguard petitions have increased dramatically.  Since 2001, exports of dressing gowns from China have increased by 905%, exports of brassieres by 382% and knit fabric by 28,000%.  Overall, Chinese exports to the U.S. textile and apparel market more than doubled in 2002, growing by 117%.  China’s exports surged in 2003, up an additional 75% through August.  China is now the largest textile and apparel importer into the United States.  In August, China accounted for 21% of textile and apparel imports, up from 7% in 2001. 

There are currently 730,000 textile and apparel manufacturing workers in the United States.  Approximately 30 percent of all textile and apparel manufacturing jobs in the United States have been lost since January 2001.

 Members of the textile/fiber coalition include:

  • American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition (AMTAC)
  • American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI)
  • National Textile Association (NTA)
  • American Yarn Spinners Association (AYSA)
  • American Fiber Manufacturers Association (AFMA)
  • National Cotton Council (NCC)
  • American Sheep Industry Association (ASI)
  • American Textile Machinery Association (ATMA)
  • The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI)
  • The Association of Georgia’s Textile, Carpet & Consumer Products Manufacturers (GTMA)
  • USA Domestic Manufacturers Committee of the Hosiery Association
  • Industrial Fabrics Association International (IFAI)
  • North Carolina Manufacturers Association (NCMA)
  • Textile Distributors Association
  • South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance (SCMA)
  • American Flock Association

Press Conference Attendees:

  • U.S. Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC)
  • U.S. Rep. John Spratt (D-SC)
  • U.S. Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA)
  • U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ)
  • Jim Chesnutt, Vice-Chairman, ATMI; CEO of National Spinning Co., Washington, NC
  • Cass Johnson, President, ATMI, Washington, DC
  • Bill Giblin, Chairman, NTA; CEO of Tweave, Inc., Norton, MA.
  • Karl Spilhaus, President, NTA, of Boston, MA
  • Woody Anderson, Vice Chairman, NCC; cotton farmer, Colorado City, TX
  • Gaylon Booker, Immediate Past President, NCC, Memphis, TN
  • Mark Levinson, UNITE, of New York, NY
  • Geoff Schofield, Executive Committee Member; AFMA, President of Drake Extrusion Co., Martinsville, VA
  • Mike Hubbard, Executive Director, AYSA, Gastonia, NC
  • Auggie Tantillo, Washington Coordinator, AMTAC, Washington, DC
  • Jock Nash, Washington Counsel, Milliken & Co., Washington, DC

Media Contact Information

AMTAC – Lloyd Wood at (202) 452-0866 or lwood@amtacdc.org;

NCC – Marjory Walker at (800) 377-9030 or mwalker@cotton.org

NTA – David Trumbull at (617) 542-8220, extension 2 or dtrumbull@nationaltextile.org;

ATMI – Robert DuPree at (202) 862-0526 or rdupree@atmi.org;

UNITE – Patricia Westwater at (646) 872-1617 or pwestwater@uniteunion.org;

AYSA – Mike Hubbard at (704) 718-0222 or mshaysa@aol.com.