US: Trade groups rally against Haiti, AGOA changes
US textile industry leaders are calling on congressional leadership to pull foreign-trade legislation that they say will benefit China and other foreign producers at the expense of US jobs.
The legislation, HR 6142, is due to be contained in a package scheduled to be considered by the US House later this week - and contains an extension and reform of the AGOA third-country fabric provisions, and the expansion of preferences for Haiti.
This would enable producers in Haiti and the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) countries to ship hundreds of millions of dollars worth of textile and apparel products to the US duty-free using components sourced from third-party countries like China.
Under current law, producers in those countries (with limited exceptions) must use their own or US-made components to receive duty-free treatment.
Cass Johnson, National Council of Textile Organizations president, said: "We strongly urge the congressional leadership to reject any backroom deal that will send US jobs to foreign countries like China.
"We stand ready and willing to engage in reasonable discussions, but the proponents did not even grant the US textile industry the common courtesy of consultation to try to find common ground prior to crafting any Haiti and AGOA language."
Auggie Tantillo, executive director of American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, noted that nearly 3m US manufacturing jobs have already been lost since 2001.
Tantillo added: "Congress should reject these proposals because they will cost thousands of US manufacturing jobs and drive up the foreign-trade deficit.
"No hearings have been held on these measures. No vetting has been done. No formal debate has occurred. All that is going on is a blatant attempt to ramrod ill-advised legislation through Congress to favour foreign special interests in countries like China at the expense of the US textile industry and its workers.
"Instead of trying to pass bills that will export more US jobs to foreign countries, Congress should be focusing its efforts on trade partners like China who cheat by manipulating their currency and on countries that use a value-added tax to subsidise their exports and to unfairly tax imports of US-made products."
National Textile Association president Karl Spilhaus added: "The Haiti bill alone jeopardises US$800m in US textile and apparel exports to Haiti and the CAFTA countries."
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