The American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) has emphasised the importance of Congress renewing the Nicaragua TPL trade agreement for US textile jobs, as the expiration date nears.

The tariff preference level (TPL) programme matches apparel exports made from fabrics and yarns from any country on a one-for-one basis with those that use certain US fabrics and yarns. It also links over 1,000 US textile jobs, but is due to expire later this year.

A spokesperson for the AAFA told just-style: "The Nicaragua TPL has anchored the key success story under CAFTA and yet we still don't have renewal with about 100 days left before expiration."

In April, Duke University published a report on 'Nicaragua and the Apparel Value Chain in the Americas', which outlined the implications should the TPL agreement not be renewed. It stated that trade policy was at "a crucial juncture".

"Expiration of the current TPLs for Nicaragua will almost certainly cause a contraction in that country's apparel manufacturing sector," authors noted. The report revealed the trade agreement links to over 1,000 US textile and related manufacturing jobs and that its pending expiration directly threatens those.

Because a substantial percentage of Nicaragua's knit garments are entering the US under the TPL regime, report authors say they expect "a moderate to significant contraction" of Nicaragua's knit apparel industry, should the TPL expire.

The spokesperson added: "From 2005 (the year CAFTA approved) until 2013, US fabric exports are down for every single CAFTA-DR country except for Nicaragua, where US fabric exports are up more than 60%. US fabric exports to Nicaragua during that period even outpace US fabric exports to every country in the world (up 0.6%).

"Likewise, on the import side, US apparel imports from Nicaragua are up more than 130%. In comparison, US apparel imports from every other CAFTA country is down during that period. Adding all the CAFTA-DR countries together total apparel imports dropped 22%."

The AAFA has said it will continue to lobby Congress to renew the trade agreement before it expires on 31 December.