US: Apparel industry sceptical of completing TPP this year
The American textile and apparel industry is concerned the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations will not be completed this year as originally expected.
Julie Hughes, president of the US Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel, told just-style that: "Most observers from industry are sceptical that the entire agreement can come together in the next six months."
This follows similar, recent comments by Vietnamese officials in Washington questioning whether Vietnam can conclude the deal without what it regards as an adequate settlement on market access for apparel and footwear.
While the Vietnam representatives' "bluntness" may have surprised people, Hughes stressed the Vietnam ambassador to the US and other officials have always made it clear this improved access is Vietnam's top priority in the negotiations.
Among the contentious outstanding issues are how to set rules for improved market access and rules of origin, she said.
But a solution is possible, as Hughes added, arguing the US apparel industry has similar goals to Vietnam, such as the elimination US duties on Vietnamese textiles and apparel.
Despite the possible delay, Hughes said important progress can still be made this year, with a possible conclusion now in early 2014.
She added the definition of yarns, fabrics, fibres, and garments in "short supply" within the TPP region - and hence given special market access - as discussed in the last negotiating round, will be a top priority at the next round of the talks in Malaysia this month.
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