Legislation to return ambassador status to the role of the United States Trade Representative's special textile negotiator has been introduced by Congressman Robin Hayes at the urging of US textile and apparel groups. 

Currently, the senior textile and apparel negotiator at the Office of the US Trade Representative does not hold the rank of ambassador, which limits his ability to effectively engage his foreign counterparts in textile negotiations. 

This distinction is important to America's domestic textile industry, the trade groups say, since textile discussions continue to gain precedence during trade agreement negotiations, particularly in past World Trade Organisation (WTO) discussions.

Historically, the industry's senior negotiator was considered the chief textile negotiator, was confirmed by the Senate, and carried the rank of ambassador.

For the past four years, however, the senior negotiator position has seemingly been downgraded. The last two occupants - including current occupant Scott Quesenberry - only carries the title of special textile negotiator and is not subject to Senate confirmation.

"We believe this situation undermines the credibility of US textile and apparel negotiators," said the National Council of Textile Organizations, the American Apparel & Footwear Association, and the National Cotton Council in a letter to Congressman Hayes.

"We are aware of several instances in recent years when US negotiators were unable to represent US interests because they did not carry the same title as their counterpart foreign official. US textile and apparel interests should not be penalised because of such misperceptions."