Bipartisan Congressional Group Urges Changes in Apparel Rules in TPP Talks

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WashingtonAs the latest round of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Talks continue in Lima, Peru this week, 30 members of the U.S. Congress sent a letter to Ambassador Ron Kirk, U.S. Trade Representative, urging the United States to adopt a new approach on apparel trade in order to seek a high-standard TPP agreement that promotes U.S. jobs and innovation, creates new trade and investment opportunities, and that is consistent with the business realities, production, and global value chains of the 21st Century. The bipartisan group consisted of 15 House Democrats and 15 House Republicans.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is an Asia-Pacific regional trade agreement currently being negotiated among the United States and eight other trade partners including: Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.

The TPP Apparel Coalition seeks a TPP agreement that creates opportunities to maximize our innovative strengths and generates U.S. jobs along the full range of activities that American firms and American workers do to bring a product from its conception to the final customer. This includes activities such as design, production, marketing, distribution, retail and support to the final customer. When considering ways to create new opportunities in the TPP for apparel, our negotiators should focus on the U.S. value and U.S. jobs created throughout the entire value chain, not just factory production,” said Stephanie Lester, vice president, International Trade at Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), one of the coalition members along with the National Retail Federation (NRF), American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) among others.

Apparel Coalition: TPP Would Create Jobs, Help U.S. Economy

“There is great opportunity in the TPP to promote U.S. jobs, U.S. innovation and U.S. value-addition, and to open new market access for U.S. exports in a wide variety of sectors. To achieve this however, the United States needs to come to the table ready to negotiate commercially meaningful rules on apparel so as to address the priorities of some of our TPP trading partners,” added Lester.

“We urge U.S. negotiators to move the ball forward and to work with industry to develop a new and flexible proposal that would jumpstart the negotiations and spur new trade and investment in apparel,” said Julie Hughes, president, U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel, another member of the coalition.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Apparel Coalition supports negotiation of a 21st Century TPP agreement that industry associations believe will generate new trade and investment opportunities for the benefit of workers, businesses, and families.

As it stands today, textiles and apparel are treated differently than other products. Restrictive rules such as the “yarn forward” style rule of origin–which require all the materials that go into a garment to originate and be assembled in a TPP country to receive tariff-free treatment–are unworkable in today’s global value chains, the coalition claims.

Past Fair Trade Agreements (FTA) with TPP countries have shown that such an “all or nothing” approach does not spur new U.S. exports or new apparel trade, Hughes added.

Last month the TPP Apparel Coalition launched a website to serve as an online hub for resources and information. The coalition is updating the website with new content including a recent myth and fact whitepaper about the TPP and the yarn forward rule of origin.

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