Congressman Larry Kissell (NC-08) introduced the first-ever textile-specific custom enforcement legislation Tuesday afternoon, May 25, during a press conference in Washington, D.C. Joining Kissell to sponsor the legislation were fellow North Carolinian Representatives Walter Jones as lead co-sponsor, Howard Coble, Patrick McHenry, Mike McIntyre, Bob Etheridge, Virginia Foxx and Sue Myrick.
"Our government has an obligation to protect American jobs and to help the American economy grow," Kissell said. "By not enforcing trade deals and holding other countries accountable to honor their end of these agreements, it has continued to cause undue harm to American manufacturers and industry. We have to do a better job at enforcing the protections put in place, and protecting the interests of American manufacturers so they have the opportunity to compete in the global marketplace."
The National Council of Textile Organizations and American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition applauded the introduction of the legislation, the Textile Enforcement and Security Act (TESA), in a press release. The Congressional Textile Caucus, co-chaired by Coble and South Carolina's John Spratt, also endorsed the legislation. Spratt, also an original co-sponsor, serves as chairman of the House Budget Committee.
"Robust customs enforcement is another "must have' to encourage investment in the United States and elsewhere in North America," said Auggie Tantillo, executive director of American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition. "TESA provides assurance to U.S. producers that U.S. Customs will have the tools they need to stop job-destroying fraud and other criminal activity. That's the kind of government action that can help create U.S. jobs."
In the past decade, textile and apparel fraud has become an increasing problem for the U.S. textile industry. It relies heavily on strong customs enforcement to protect against this type of fraud. Fraudulent activities such as front companies posing as legitimate U.S. businesses, undervalued goods, illegal preference, and free trade agreement claims have gotten increasingly worse, costing more U.S. jobs.
"After the years of harming American industry, it is time for the government to start protecting American workers and American jobs," Kissell said. "The Textile Enforcement and Security Act of 2010 will provide the resources necessary to crack down on textile fraud and close loopholes which allow foreign companies to unfairly exploit these trade deals."
Etheridge, who represents neighboring NC-02, also signed on as a co-sponsor to the Kissell-Jones bill. "Establishing an office of textile and apparel trade enforcement within the Justice Department will promote fair trade for North Carolina-made products and make sure our markets are not flooded with goods from other countries in violation of existing agreements. It's just common sense."
The Textile Enforcement and Security Act of 2010 addresses the issues of increasing 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.
Also co-sponsoring this bipartisan bill are 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.