Wes Hickman (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)
– U.S. Senators Elizabeth Dole and Lindsey Graham wrote to U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab yesterday, calling on her to defend the American textile industry from countries that engage in unfair trade practices, specifically expressing their concerns about the U.S.-Vietnam bilateral agreement.
Dole and Graham have placed holds on legislation that would authorize the president to grant permanent normal trade relations status to Vietnam, which would pave the way for Vietnam to join the World Trade Organization. Dole and Graham are concerned about the potential negative impact that this agreement could have on Carolina textile jobs.
“We believe that unless the government takes specific steps to ensure that the U.S. textile industry can be defended against a communist country that heavily subsidizes its textile and apparel sector, this agreement is likely to cause large-scale job losses in both of our states,” wrote Dole and Graham to Schwab. “We believe that it would be unreasonable to ask U.S. workers to compete with products manufactured under a state-run economy without at least providing an adequate mechanism for the industry to defend itself.”
Dole and Graham pointed out that like China, Vietnam has a large and heavily subsidized textile sector that utilizes anti-free market principles to under-price producers in the United States. Vietnam is already one of the world’s largest exporters of textiles and apparel, and Commerce Department data confirms that Vietnam is the second largest supplier of apparel products that have been removed from quota control. Over the past five and a half years, Vietnam has increased its apparel exports by 1,186 percent in quota-free apparel categories.
Dole and Graham urged Schwab to closely review all of the possible solutions to this problem and pledged to work closely with her on the issue.
“The Carolinas are the heart of our nation’s textile industry… We want to ensure that this strong manufacturing tradition continues and that this industry will offer stable, good-paying jobs to our constituents well into the future,” wrote Dole and Graham.
On May 31, the United States formalized an agreement that would pave the way for Vietnam to formally join the 149-member World Trade Organization (WTO). Congress must still vote on the WTO accession agreement for Vietnam.