The selection of New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson as President-elect Barack Obama's choice for commerce secretary has been welcomed by US textile trade groups for his "common sense approach to trade."

If confirmed by the US Senate, he will take over a department that oversees the apparel and textile trade through the Office of Textiles and Apparel (OTEXA).

Among its responsibilities, OTEXA supervises the implementation of all textile trade agreements, formulates trade policy, performs research and analysis, compiles industry data, and promotes US trade events for a whole spectrum of textile and apparel goods.

Cass Johnson, president of The National Council for Textile Organizations (NCTO) said: "Governor Richardson brings a common sense approach to trade that all too often has been lacking in Washington. 

"He also brings new energy and prominence to one of the most critical Departments in the government in terms of trade enforcement."

In October 2007, Governor Richardson said: "If China can fairly make shirts cheaper than Americans, we'll need to make something we're better at making.

"But if the Chinese shirt is cheaper only because their workers make sweatshop wages and the owners pour chemicals into local rivers, we can't go along."

He also believes that there is no such thing as completely free trade.

"All trade needs to have regulatory sideboards to prevent a cost-reduction competition via the exploitation of people and the environment."