In a bold bipartisan move, a group of U.S. senators, led by Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), has sounded the alarm over China's harmful trade practices and their dire consequences for the American textile and apparel sector. The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) President and CEO, Kim Glas, lauded their actions and implored President Joe Biden to spearhead a multi-agency crackdown on these practices and craft a strategic plan to counter them.
The senators, including Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Ted Budd (R-NC), J.D. Vance (R-OH), Tim Scott (R-SC), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), collectively conveyed their concerns to President Biden, warning of an impending disaster for the U.S. textile and apparel industry unless immediate and enhanced enforcement is implemented.
Among the grave issues highlighted in the letter are the lack of effective customs enforcement, exploitative trade practices fueled by the 'de minimis' shipments loophole in U.S. trade law, import fraud eroding free trade agreements (FTAs) and their rules of origin, and the infiltration of forced labor into supply chains. These challenges are undermining the industry's stability and competitiveness.
The senators' demands are clear:
1. Strengthen enforcement against subsidized textiles and apparel produced using forced labor entering FTAs.
2. Terminate duty-free privileges for clothing made with forced labor under the 'de minimis' provision.
3. Review executive authorities to hold China accountable for its predatory trade practices.
Kim Glas emphasized the urgency of these actions to preserve the domestic textile supply chain and protect its workforce. The fate of the U.S. textile and apparel industry hinges on immediate and resolute measures to combat systemic abuse.