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Industry bodies demand U.S./Colombia trade promotions agreement
11
Jul '08
Representatives of every aspect of the U.S. and Colombian textile, apparel and retail supply chain stressed the urgency of the need for immediate approval and implementation of the U.S./Colombia Trade Promotions Agreement (TPA).

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the group explained the importance of Colombia not only as a vital source for U.S. imports, but, more importantly, as a crucial export market for U.S. cotton growers and U.S. textile and apparel manufacturers.

“The U.S. textile and apparel manufacturing industry still employs nearly 500,000 people in the United States,” said Kevin M. Burke, President and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), which helped organize the letter.

“These jobs are dependant on the $16 billion worth of U.S. made textile and apparel product exported from the United States each year of which about 45 percent is bound for the Andean region, including Colombia, Mexico and Central America.”

Representing the entire supply chain, from cotton to consumer, the signatories noted that the existing trade relationship with Colombia now rests on a temporary one-way preference program the Andean Trade Preference Act (ATPA) – that is under constant threat of expiration.

For example, Congress narrowly averted a costly gap in benefits by approving a 10-month renewal for the ATPA, which provides trade benefits to the Andean region, just days before the program was set to expire this past February.

A new expiration date is now looming at the end of this year. To gain more predictability and develop a stronger relationship, U.S. and Colombian businesses are pressing to turn the current one-way temporary program into a permanent, reciprocal trade partnership through the U.S./Colombia TPA.

“Let's work together to pass and implement the U.S./Colombia TPA as soon as possible,” stated Burke, noting the unprecedented unity on this issue among the industry.

“We have already seen the strain temporary agreements, such as ATPA, put on the industry each time the clock starts to run out.”

“Hundreds of thousands of American and Colombian workers and their families need permanent, two-way trade between the United States and Colombia now,” added Burke.

American Apparel & Footwear Association

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