Since 1997, 649 textile plants and mills have closed in North Carolina and almost 1,300 plants across the country have met similar fates.
Thousands and thousands of workers have lost their jobs and their benefits. Unfair trade deals and lax enforcement of existing trade laws have severely damaged the U.S. textile industry and U.S. manufacturing.
It has to stop.
This week, I introduced H.R. 5393, the Textile Enforcement and Security Act of 2010. This legislation, which I am proud to sponsor along with fellow North Carolinian Congressman Walter Jones, will provide much-needed resources, authority and direction to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, making the agency able to more effectively enforce our trade obligations.
I am proud to say that most of the North Carolina Congressional Delegation is behind this important piece of legislation including Representatives Howard Coble, Patrick McHenry, Mike McIntyre, Bob Etheridge, Virginia Foxx and Sue Myrick.
After years of allowing unfair trade to harm American industry and wreak havoc on American jobs, our government has an obligation to protect our manufacturing industries and jobs from being shipped overseas. Lax enforcement of trade deals is detrimental to U.S. industries, especially textiles. Those of us here in the 8th District have seen the devastation first-hand.
In the past decade, textile and apparel fraud has become a tremendous problem for the U.S. textile industry. The industry relies heavily on strong customs enforcement to help protect against fraud. Activities such as front companies posing as legitimate American businesses and the deliberate undervaluing of goods have continued to increase. Fraud like this costs American workers more and more jobs.
The Textile Enforcement and Security Act of 2010 addresses the issues of escalating fraud by increasing the necessary resources to investigate and prosecute offenders with funds coming from fines and penalties collected. It establishes an electronic verification of textiles and apparel imports, increases staff at high-volume ports for textile and apparel imports and establishes a non-resident importer program to ensure that resident agents are held accountable for products imported under their name.
The legislation has the backing of the National Council of Textile Organizations, American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, National Textile Association, the American Fiber Manufacturers Associations, Inc., the National Cotton Council of America, and the Congressional Textile Caucus.
During the press conference to announce the legislation, Andy Warlick, Parkdale Mills President, and Bill Jasper, President of Unifi, were on hand to lend their support.
Warlick explained, "A decade ago, our industry employed more than one million workers throughout the Southeast. Today, we employee just one-half of those employees and I can testify with absolute certainty that our industry was forced to lay off at least a half of those employees due to illegal shipments of yarn and fabric entering into the United States through CAFTA and our other preference regions illegally. Strong and effective enforcement of our trade agreements is paramount to ensuring that the intended beneficiaries of the agreement are afforded the access provided under an FTA."
According to the NCTO, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection collects more than $25 billion in duties annually with more than 42 percent of duties collected through textile and apparel imports.
"This is a case where our U.S. government needs to seriously reevaluate our border security and import verification systems. By better targeting these shipments and players through an effective risk assessment program, you can better facilitate trade and properly manage enforcement," said Cass Johnson, NCTO president.
Representatives Rick Boucher of Virginia, Phil Hare of Illinois, Mark Schauer of Michigan, Christopher Carney of Pennsylvania, John Duncan, Jr. of Tennessee, Mike Michaud of Maine, Robert Aderholt of Alabama, Michael Rogers of Alabama, Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan, Bob Inglis of South Carolina, Betty Sutton of Ohio, Daniel Lipinski of Illinois, Linda Sanchez of California, Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, and Pennsylvania's Tim Holden have lent their support to this bill.
The Textile Enforcement and Security Act, H.R. 5393, is a common-sense and bipartisan bill that would have an enormous impact on the ability of United States companies to compete in the global marketplace, and would have a direct effect on American workers being put back to work.
I was proud to introduce this important legislation and will continue to work hard to see this bill gets the consideration it deserves.