In the letter dated 12 May, the lawmakers highlighted the positive impact of the rules on investment and employment under the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR).

However, they warned that attempts by certain importers to amend the rules would “open the back door” to China and significantly harm investment in the US-CAFTA region and the “vibrant” textile and apparel co-production chain in the US and wider region, which employs more than one million workers.

“The rules of origin governing textile and apparel production and trade under CAFTA-DR have clear benefits and have strengthened our regional supply chains by fostering a stable business environment where American and regional manufacturers can thrive. We strongly urge you to continue following the longstanding CAFTA-DR short supply list process, which requires requestors to submit public petitions for review, and reject requests to circumvent it,” the letter states.

The lawmakers expressed concerns that bypassing the existing short supply petition and review system could result in non-signatory nations, particularly the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as a dominant global supplier of yarns and fabrics, gaining unauthorised access to CAFTA-DR benefits. They stressed the potential detrimental impact on investment in the US-CAFTA region and the more than one million workers employed in the vibrant textile and apparel co-production chain.

Maintaining the integrity of the rules of origin is crucial to protecting the economic interests of the CAFTA-DR region and ensuring fair trade practices. The bipartisan group of lawmakers urged Secretary Raimondo to stand firm in supporting the current rules and safeguarding the long-term success of the agreement.

A white paper released on 3 April debunked a number of myths surrounding the CAFTA-DR trade agreement.