US textile groups want the government to send aid - "not US jobs" - to flood-hit Pakistan

US textile groups want the government to send aid - "not US jobs" - to flood-hit Pakistan

US textile and cotton groups have hit out at a suggested package of trade concessions to help Pakistan recover from the recent flood disaster, saying the US government should send humanitarian aid to Pakistan instead of US jobs.

The comments were made in response to a proposal by the US Chamber of Commerce to grant one-way trade concessions to Pakistan in the form of duty-free treatment for certain textile and apparel products as a way to help the flood-ravaged country.

Instead, they say, the move would simply offshore US jobs by having “a devastating impact on the more than 400,000 employees that comprise the US textile and apparel sector.”

The groups – which include the the National Association of Textile Organizations, the National Cotton Council and the National Cotton Council – expressed their concerns in a letter sent to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US Trade Representative Ron Kirk.

“The United States could craft an aid package that sends Pakistan US-made relief products like shelters, blankets, and medical supplies,” said AMTAC executive director Auggie Tantillo. “That would help Pakistan and put Americans back to work.”

The US Chamber of Commerce is calling for expansion of Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) legislation in Pakistan and Afghanistan to cover apparel products like cotton trousers and shirts. It also wants to extend the geographic regions within Pakistan that would be eligible for a ROZ.

However, while the US Chamber believes its proposal will have “no negative impact on US textile producers,” the groups say cotton trousers and shirts are “highly sensitive” apparel export categories for western hemisphere producers that use US-made yarns and fabrics.

They also argue that the offshoring proposal “directly contradicts President Obama’s National Export Initiative and its goal of doubling exports over the next five years.”

“Granting duty-free treatment to Pakistan’s exports not only will undermine US manufacturers, it also will displace producers throughout Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean and Andean regions that compete directly with Pakistan for US market share,” the letter says.

“Moreover, the US Chamber’s concept would substantially undermine another Obama administration priority, the recently passed Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act of 2010, as Haiti is a direct competitor in many of the product categories that Pakistan supplies to the US market.