The National Council of Textile Organizations and the National Cotton Council (NCC) have decided to back the US/Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement, becoming a rare supporter within an industry set against the trade pact.

NCTO says it is backing CAFTA-DR on the grounds that it would ensure that the US textile industry could stay competitive against China.

While the treaty is also supported by US president George Bush and the Republican Congressional leadership, the National Textile Association is battling hard to prevent it being passed.

The NTA argues that the NCTO'S backing of the pact goes against the interests of US weaving, knitting and finishing companies.

However, the NCTO says it decided to back the agreement after the Bush administration pledged to soften the impact of the deal for the sections of the industry.

The American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition has also emphasised its resistance to CAFA, arguing that it will lead to job losses and a larger US trade deficit.

Central America and the Dominican Republic represent one of the best markets for US textile firms and cotton farmers. 

More than 25 per cent of all US fabric exports and 40 per cent of all US yarn exports go to Central America and the Dominican Republic. 

Moreover, from 1999 to 2004, total US yarn and fabric exports to this region increased by more than $2 billion, accounting for about 85 per cent of all US yarn and fabric export growth worldwide during this period.