NCTO pressed all corners of government to step up enforcement against unfair trade practices by China and other foreign competitors, sounding the alarm on the damage to U.S. textile producers from Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act violations to false origin claims to abuse of “de minimis” tariff waivers. NCTO secured a bipartisan letter led by Senators Tillis (R-NC) and Brown (D-OH) calling on the President to immediately convene an interagency meeting and develop a strategic plan to combat illegal trade practices. A plan is expected to be unveiled in early 2024.
NCTO worked with members of Congress to advance the Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act, which helps to preserve the Berry Amendment supply chain, and secured critical language expressing concern about offshoring textile manufacturing and the need for DOD/DLA to ensure our national security by procuring domestically-made textile goods. NDAA report language requires DOD to report to Congress on the feasibility of requiring certain home textiles goods on military installations to be procured domestically.
Make PPE in America
In multiple meetings on Capitol Hill and with key federal agencies, NCTO pressed for compliance with the Make PPE in America Act—legislation that applies Berry-like rules to nearly all federal purchases of PPE and ensures minimum two-year federal PPE contracts. Specifically, industry concerns over lagging implementation were raised at HHS’s Industry Day and during a House Veteran’s Affairs’ Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing.
The TextilePAC is a vital aspect of NCTO’s advocacy efforts in Washington. Thanks to the active participation of NCTO member companies, in 2023 the TextilePAC raised $146,720 and contributed a combined $197,000 to candidates for the House and Senate during the most recent two-year election cycle.
NCTO promoted policies to expand the industry in the United States and broader Western Hemisphere, a key export destination for 70% of U.S. yarns and fabrics, including coordinating with offices of the Vice President, USTR, and State Dept. to develop win-win solutions to grow regional co-production and U.S. exports. NCTO championed a bipartisan letter from 38 members of Congress to Commerce Sec. Raimondo urging support of CAFTA-DR’s origin rules. Further, NC State’s Wilson College of Textiles was awarded a $2 million USAID grant to establish a cross-training program in textile/apparel production in Honduras.
Federal and state regulators have intensified scrutiny of PFAS chemicals in the wake of growing environmental concerns with certain applications, such as fluorinated polymers used in fire suppressing foams. These concerns have resulted in initiatives in Congress, the Biden administration, numerous state governments, and abroad to tightly regulate PFAS chemicals individually and as a class. NCTO’s FluoroTechnology Working Group worked with congressional allies to keep language out of the FY 2024 NDAA that would have banned Defense Department procurement of PFAS-treated textile and apparel products.
With congressional action to renew the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill still pending, NCTO created a working group to build momentum around passing an MTB with retroactivity. NCTO sent a letter to Congress showcasing the strong support for MTB renewal of 25 individual textile companies from across the country.
As part of the USTR’s four-year statutory review, NCTO continued voicing support for the Section 301 case against China’s intellectual property and filed formal comments promoting the full inclusion of PPE and increased penalty tariffs as an offset to China’s unfair advantages and a critical trade enforcement measure. At the same time, NCTO also advocated for exclusions for machinery and inputs not available domestically.
NCTO continued to highlight the worsening problem of importers circumventing the U.S. tariff schedule through the use of Section 321 de minimis tariff waivers for vast volumes of consumer products. NCTO raised this issue in multiple forums, including providing congressional testimony and collaborating on and promoting legislation that would disqualify China from de minimis benefits as well as products that are subject to penalty duties and those that originate in cross-border warehouses. NCTO also strongly pressed the Biden administration to utilize executive authorities to close de minimis for e-commerce.
NCTO engaged heavily in pressing lawmakers crafting the 2024 Farm Bill to support the critical cotton farming and textile programs, known as the Wool and Pima Cotton Trust Fund and the Economic Adjustment Assistance for Textile Manufacturers program. NCTO has advocated for restoring the current payment rate of $0.03/lb. of cotton, to $0.04/lb., which is the rate originally instituted under the 2012 Farm Bill.
Amplifying the industry’s policy objectives and their importance to the U.S. economy remained a key part of overall NCTO communications engagement. Our efforts targeted the administration, key congressional offices and staffers, and federal agency officials as well as the media with engagement on social media; through newsletters, email campaigns, and direct outreach to journalists; and a newly launched podcast. These efforts combined generated an ad equivalency value of more than $17 million in earned media in 2023.
The Membership Recruitment Committee met monthly to develop and conduct active recruitment efforts. Committee members invited recruits to information sessions, gave presentations on the support NCTO provides, and performed follow-up with interested parties. In 2023, 10 new members joined NCTO.