The American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) is calling for the swift appointment of Robert Holleyman as deputy US trade representative (USTR) as negotiations on key free trade agreements enter a "critical juncture".

The group, which represents US retailers, brands and importers, wants the appointment to be confirmed before Congress adjourns at the end of this week for the November elections. 

In a letter to leaders of the US Senate, the AAFA said Holleyman draws upon deep experience in opening markets and safeguarding US intellectual property rights, and will bring to USTR an intimate knowledge of digital economy issues.

"This is vital if we are to engage our trading partners at the highest levels during the coming months on a range of trade negotiations, enforcement actions, and bilateral dialogues that are entering sensitive phases," the letter said.

Holleyman was unanimously approved by the Senate Finance Committee in July, and the AAFA said it is "imperative" that the USTR leadership team be fully deployed immediately.

"We can't afford to wait until possible action in a post-election session, or later," it added.