This support from Manning is critical. North Carolina is the second-largest state for textile employment nationally with more than 36,000 workers, and those jobs play a vital role in supporting 108,000 additional jobs. Further, the state’s $2.7 billion in textile-related exports leads the nation.
The one regional trade pact is a great example of Manning’s perspective.
This successful agreement has helped the North Carolina and broader U.S. textile and apparel industries compete against the predatory trade practices of China and other Asian countries and driven domestic investment and job growth in the U.S. and our trading partners in the Western Hemisphere. It has also provided economic opportunities for our southern neighbors, reducing an incentive to migrate to the U.S. to escape poverty.
The relationships go deep. Take Parkdale Mills, the Gastonia-headquartered company that is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of spun yarn. Vice President Kamala Harris praised Parkdale when it announced it was making a $150 million investment in plants in the U.S. and Honduras. The move will help customers shift 1 million pounds of yarn per week away from supply chains in Asia and China and enhance U.S. and CAFTA-DR co-production resilience while creating hundreds of jobs in Honduras and further supporting hundreds of employees in Parkdale’s Hillsville, Virginia, operations.
The White House also touted new investments by Unifi. The Greensboro-based producer of recycled and synthetic yarns is making new investments in its El Salvador and U.S. operations. Those expanded co-production arrangements, done under CAFTA-DR, will benefit Central America and the U.S.
However, those investments are now facing a threat from a group of importers calling for changes in CAFTA-DR to allow greater use of foreign-made materials, giving Chinese products a backdoor into the U.S. market duty-free. Diluting CAFTA-DR would devastate our domestic and regional textile industries and displace an estimated 307,000 U.S. textile and cotton farming jobs and 250,000 jobs in Central America’s textile industry, according to a report by Werner International. It would also reward China’s predatory trade practices.
Yet, some importers addicted to the Chinese supply chains want to dismantle the U.S.-CAFTA-DR free trade agreement and change the rules to allow Chinese yarns and fabrics, which would displace American jobs and hypercharge migration.
This critical agreement that contains important textile and apparel provisions has spawned US$12.6 billion in annual two-way trade in the textile and apparel sector. And, as the investments of Parkdale, Unifi, and other North Carolina companies attest, it continues to work for us and our regional partners.
That is not the only threat North Carolina’s textile and apparel producers are facing. Calls have been growing to lift penalty tariffs on Chinese imports first imposed in 2018 to penalize China for intellectual property rights theft. Removing these tariffs would open the floodgates to Chinese products and erase the growth we have been seeing in nearshoring trends that benefit North Carolina and the entire industry.
Punching big holes in CAFTA-DR and lifting tariffs on China would do serious damage to American companies and the operations of our free trade partners.