A number of issues affecting clothing, textile and footwear trade are facing the re-elected US Administration, including the fiscal cliff and talks to expand the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. Significant questions are looming on the readiness of the re-elected US Administration to stand up for American textile interests in the upcoming talks to expand the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. Important decisions will soon be needed about the terms for including Vietnam in the TPP and its associated yarn-forward rule of origin.


David Trumbull, Vice-president of international trade at the National Textile Association (NTA), the trade organization for the US textile, fabric, weaving and knitting, dyeing, printing and finishing industries, said this was "by far the biggest issue confronting us now." The TPP will link the US with Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, Mexico and Canada in a comprehensive free trade and investment zone. "The question is how the US will handle rules of origin, the duty phase-out and how the whole issue of state-owned or state-supported enterprises is handled in a free trade agreement - this is something we've never had before," Trumbull said.


The NTA supported the draft rules requirement "that in most cases when a garment coming from one of the partner countries enters the US duty-free under the terms of the agreement, it must meet the rule of origination and this states generally that it must be made in one of the partner countries, of fabric made in one of the partner countries, of yarn made in one of the partner countries and we strongly support keeping that rule if we are going in to the TPP."


On market access, "that's a difficult issue for us because we really don't see any opportunity for exports," he said. There are markets within that region that are very much of interest but we already have trade agreements there." On the other hand "we see it [the TPP] as potentially opening up our market to even more import penetration and the issue here of course is Vietnam which, even without the free trade agreement, is already the second largest supplier of apparel to the US."


The American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA) the national trade association for apparel, footwear and other sewn products companies, whose interests often diverge from the textile sector, said the election result meant that President Obama had been entrusted to "do a better job of steering back the nation to more sustainable economic recovery."