NCTO Says Duty-Free Access to Cambodia Damages Textiles

David Hastings, chairman of Mount Vernon Mills, urged the House Ways & Means Committee’s Subcommittee on Trade to keep in mind that the United States’ manufacturing sector is hurting badly and not to take action that could potentially cause further job losses in this country.

November 17, 2009
Contact: Marjory Walker
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WASHINGTON, DC - Testifying on behalf of the National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO), Hastings specifically urged the Subcommittee that as it reviews different options regarding preference programs – not to consider a proposal to extend duty  free  status to  apparel  imports  from  Bangladesh  and  Cambodia  as  a  part  of  broad  trade preference  reform.

Hastings said, for example, if  this  Committee  grants  these  large  competitive countries  with duty-free  status,  Mount  Vernon's  Trion  facility,  and  many  others, will  be  forced  to  close.

"And, in the case of Trion, the  U.S.  military  will  lose  one  of the  country's  largest producers  of  combat  fabric  for  our  soldiers," he noted.

Hastings said of  the  55  countries  in  the  current  trade  preference  and  free  trade areas,  not  a  single  country  or  NGO  support is granting  any  sort  of  preference  to these  two  countries.

"In  fact,  not  one  country  has  asked  for  broad  trade preference  reform for textiles," he said. Hastings testified that 42  textile  and  apparel associations from  28 countries  in  Africa  and  the  Western  Hemisphere,  including Least  Developed Countries  such  as  Haiti,  asked him to  present  to  the  Committee a  letter stressing strong  opposition  to  any  such  effort. With  regard  to  trade  preferences, Hastings offered three solutions: 1) Congress  must  pass  an  Andean  trade  preference extension  immediately; 2)  take  action  against  China; and 3) the U.S. government should  do  more  to  support  manufacturing.

"I  also  do  not  think  we  should  abandon  our  free  trade  and  preference  program partners  in  order  to  reward  countries  that  barely  pay  their  workers  or  engage  in predatory  and  illegal  subsidy  schemes," Hastings stated. "Instead,  I  believe  that  we should  be  focusing  our  efforts  on  ensuring  a  prosperous  future  for  the  U.S. worker,  as  well  as  the  millions  of  workers  in  the  preference  and  free  trade areas."