Senate argues against yarn-forward rules in TPP talks
Members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Apparel Coalition on Tuesday lauded a group of 15 U.S. senators who sent a letter to President Obama urging him to push for modern and flexible rules in the TPP, a multilateral trade agreement being negotiated among a cadre of Pacific nations.
The senators asked the administration to abandon a push for the so-called “yarn-forward” rule of origin, saying it restricts textile and apparel trade among TPP partners.
The bipartisan Senate letter follows a similar one sent by a bipartisan group of 30 U.S. representatives to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk in October.
“We are reaching critical mass to reform the onerous yarn-forward rule, which protects one industry at the expense of consumers, retailers, and the promotion of new trade, investment and economic growth,” National Retail Federation Vice President and International Trade Counsel Erik Autor said. “There is now strong bipartisan and bicameral support for more progressive and realistic rules-of-origin standards in the TPP negotiations and other trade agreements that are more consistent with the administration’s goal of making the TPP a 21st century trade agreement.
“The United States Trade Representative should immediately heed congressional calls to reform these anti-free trade restrictions in the TPP, and reaffirm the nation’s commitment to free and open trade. Today’s Senate action is a strong signal to the president and USTR that Congress will support administration efforts to advance more flexible textile and apparel standards that will actually promote rather than hinder new trade and investment under this agreement,” he said.
In addition to NRF, the TPP Apparel Coalition members include theRetail Industry Leaders Association and American Apparel & Footwear Association.
The letter sent Tuesday said “the current U.S. proposal on rules of origin takes an overly broad approach in advocating a yarn-forward position for nearly all apparel products. According to our understanding of the U.S. proposal, it would require originating yarns, fabrics, sewing thread and other inputs for all apparel products, even if there is insufficient availability of quality inputs and a reliable supply chain within the TPP countries. Instead, we believe that it would be better to take a more flexible approach which would support the growth of U.S. exports and U.S. jobs.”
RILA President Sandy Kennedy thanked the senators for recognizing the positive impact apparel imports have on the U.S. economy.
“Some of the highest in U.S. tariffs are on apparel; these duties inhibit job growth, rather than foster it, and the TPP provides a unique opportunity to create a new framework that will facilitate trade and investment in the TPP region," she said.
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