Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Comments on Moroccan Short Supply Request Relating to Swimsuit Fabric

On November 16, 2015, the Government of the United States received a request from the Swimsuit Commission Corporation ("SCC"), that the United States and Morocco consider revising the rules of origin for certain women’s and girls’ swimwear to address availability of supply of certain printed and piece-dyed warp knit fabrics of polyester or nylon fibers classified under HTSUS subheading 6004.10 containing between 3 percent and 41 percent elastomeric yarns, in which the elastomeric yarns were engineered for chlorine resistance, which the SCC alleges cannot be supplied by the U.S. and Moroccan industries in commercial quantities in a timely manner.

Public comments were due today. Agathon Associates submitted the following comments--

I write as a consultant to the U.S. textile industry to oppose the request to modify the rules of origin for certain swimwear made of certain warp knit fabric under the U.S. Morocco Free Trade Agreement ("MFTA"), published December 7, 2015, at 80 FR 75999. I understand that my clients, Elastic Fabrics of American and the Darlington division of the George C. Moore will be filing their own comments as domestic U.S. manufacturers of the subject fabrics.

The request from the Swimsuit Commission Corporation should be rejected "out of hand" as failing to present any factual basis for the request. No attempt is made in the request to demonstrate short supply of the fabric in the region. No evidence is presented of any attempt to contact potential suppliers in the U.S. or Morocco. Indeed, my associates in the warp knit industry in the U.S. state that they were at no time contacted by the Swimsuit Commission Corporation, Gottex Swimwear Brands LTD, or any Moroccan swimwear manufacturers. Had the requestors made any attempt to locate regional suppliers they would have known that the fabric is indisputably not in short supply.

The sole justification given in the request for modifying the rules of origin is the fact that such warp knit fabric for use in the production of swimwear is on the short supply list of a negotiated, but not enacted, let alone implemented, free trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership ("TPP"). I believe it is a misuse of the negotiated TPP and the MFTA to suggest that the mere appearance of an article on the TPP short supply list is compelling and sufficient evidence for the article being short supply under the terms of another agreement.

My clients who make warp knit swimwear fabric in the U.S. believe that the U.S. negotiators erred in allowing this fabric on the TPP short supply list. However, we understand that the TPP list was the result of negotiations and compromises. Perhaps the negotiators, in "giving up" that fabric in TPP, believed they were getting something for textiles in return that was worth the damage it would do to America's warp knit industry. Whether what they got was worth it is not the point. The point is that the Moroccans now want the same concession without having to give up anything in return.

Because this fabric is available from domestic U.S. sources that will be harmed were the request granted, and because no U.S. textile industry interests can possibly be aided by the requested change, I urge in the strongest terms that the U.S. reject this request.

Comments were also submitted by:

  • Darlington Fabrics, a Moore Company,
  • Elastic Fabrics of America,
  • McMurray Fabrics,
  • Joint comments from the American Fiber Manufacturers Association and the National Council of Textile Organizations, and
  • The Government of Morocco.
To read public versions of all comments received CLICK HERE and you will be redirected the website of the U.S. Department of Commerce Office of Textiles and Apparel.

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