15 Senators Ask the President to Seek Flexible Rules on Apparel in the TPP Agreement

May 01, 2012, 16:31 ET from Retail Industry Leaders Association

ARLINGTON, Va., May 1, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) applauded a letter sent today by 15 Senators urging President Obama to seek a modern approach on apparel in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations that supports the growth of U.S. exports and U.S. jobs. 

The Senate letter follows a letter sent in October 2011 by thirty bipartisan Members of the House of Representatives to USTR Kirk urging the United States to adopt a new approach on apparel trade in the TPP agreement.

U.S. market access for apparel from the TPP countries is an important concession for the partnering TPP countries and is an essential tool the United States has to use as leverage to achieve U.S. priorities in these negotiations.  U.S. objectives to achieve a state-of-the-art trade agreement include robust market access for U.S. agriculture, industrial goods and services exports, strong protections for intellectual property rights and investment, and solid disciplines on technical barriers to trade.

In its support of changes to the overly restrictive rules on apparel, the Senate letter stated "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." 

"Our bipartisan approach urges the Administration to continue in a productive dialogue with participating TPP countries about a modern approach for apparel trade that reflects today's commercial realities," Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA) said. "This more flexible approach will allow immediate market access that can lead to increased jobs, trade and investment here in the United States."

"Retailers applaud Senator Warner for his leadership in encouraging flexible rules on apparel in the TPP.  We thank all 15 Senate supporters for recognizing the positive impact that changes to apparel rules will have for our industry and in ensuring a comprehensive, high-standard TPP agreement that maximizes opportunities to create new U.S. exports and U.S. jobs," said Sandy Kennedy, President of RILA.

"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," concluded Kennedy.

Additionally, RILA and other interested associations have formed the TPP Apparel Coalition to aggressively advocate to Congress and the Administration that the U.S. position on apparel should be updated in the TPP to adopt rules of origin for apparel that are simple, flexible, and accommodate global value chains.

A global value chain describes the full range of activities that firms and workers do to bring a product from its conception to the final customer. Nearly three million American workers are employed in the ideation and orchestration of the apparel global value chain—research, design, production, marketing, distribution, retail and support to the final customer. These American jobs rely on trade and would benefit from more flexible rules governing trade.

The TPP Apparel Coalition and other stakeholders will be present at the next round of TPP negotiations in Dallas, Texas, May 8th through the 18th to continue to advocate for a modern approach for apparel in the TPP.

RILA is the trade association of the world's largest and most innovative retail companies. RILA members include more than 200 retailers, product manufacturers, and service suppliers, which together account for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales, millions of American jobs and more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities and distribution centers domestically and abroad.

SOURCE Retail Industry Leaders Association