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AAFA President praises House passage of HELP Act
May '10
The American Apparel & Footwear Association praised the passage of the Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act of 2010 in the U.S. House of Representatives. The HELP Act was introduced on April 28, 2010 in the House by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Sander Levin (D-MI), Ranking Member Dave Camp (R-MI), and Congressman Charles Rangel (D-NY), and in the Senate by Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA). AAFA also sent a “key vote letter” to members of the House and Senate urging for swift passage.

“Ten years ago yesterday, the House voted to approve the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act, a preference program that has mutually strengthened our economic relationship with the Caribbean region” said AAFA President and CEO Kevin M. Burke. “It could not be more fitting for the House to pass this renewal and expansion today. I am pleased that the House was able to pass this important piece of legislation so quickly. I hope that an affirmative Senate vote follows in the coming days.”

“This bill is now one step closer towards providing the apparel assembly business in Haiti with a giant boost forward, allowing access to the tools necessary for sustainable growth and investment” said HARRT Steering Committee Co-Chair Rick Helfenbein, President of TellaS Ltd., the USA division of Luen Thai. “Once this bill is passed by the Senate and signed by the President, the U.S. apparel and textile industry will be able rebuild Haiti's apparel sector with a degree of certainty and predictability that has been lacking. Our main goal is to help the assembly business and that, in turn, will help the Haitian people”

“The HELP Act will be a valuable tool to the people of Haiti as they work to rebuild their country and economy,” said HARRT Steering Committee Co-Chair Jerry Cook, Senior Vice President of Government and Trade, Hanesbrands, Inc. “Following the lead of the House, the full passage of the HELP Act by the Senate will expand the already positive trade environment between Haiti and the United States.”

Following the House's passage of the HELP Act, the bill now needs to be passed by the Senate before it can be sent to the President for signature. Upon presidential signature, the HELP Act of 2010 will renew the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act (CBTPA) and the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Engagement Acts of 2006 (HOPE Act) and 2008 (HOPE II) through 2020. The CBTPA is currently set to expire September 30, 2010, while key provisions of the HOPE legislation expire at the end of next year. The proposed legislation also would increase current tariff preference levels for certain knit and woven apparel products. While aiding Haiti through recovery, this bill works to create a predictable and certain environment for the U.S. apparel and textile industry.

Following the earthquake, AAFA assembled industry stakeholders and launched the Haiti-AAFA Recovery and Reconstruction Team (HARRT), a member-driven task force that has provided key apparel, footwear, and textile industry insight as relief operations continue and reconstruction planning begins in earthquake-stricken Haiti.

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