Trade deals and hurricanes

September 11th, 2017 / By: / My Take

It’s hard not to talk about hurricanes as I write this. Irma is churning its way up the length of Florida, Jose is hot on its heels and Texas residents are a long ways from recovering their lives after Harvey’s devastation. I’m also thinking of all the textile products that help protect people and property in storms, and provide some comfort in their aftermath. It’s gratifying to work in an industry that is in a position to help in so many ways.

But a strong and vibrant textile industry needs more than a marketplace that appreciates what it has to offer. In fact, decisions made by governments—specifically, trade deals – can profoundly affect how effectively companies doing business internationally can operate.

And that’s about as much as I know about it, which is why I asked experts on trade agreements to write articles this month to share up-to-date information relevant to the textile industry, specifically.

Especially NAFTA, a hot topic. Right now. Not quite up there with hurricanes on this particular day, but certainly significant in the longer term.

Lloyd Wood and Sara Beatty have many years of experience advocating on behalf of domestic textile manufacturers, including as representatives for IFAI’s USIFI and NFI divisions. Their article “A new NAFTA?” provides a clear picture of the textile industry’s position regarding talks on this critical trade agreement.

Interest in renegotiating the agreement is high. The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) says that it received more than 12,000 responses and heard directly from over 140 witnesses over three days of public hearings this summer. (See “USTR releases NAFTA negotiating objectives.”)

More discussion related to trade continues at the Advanced Textiles Conference Sept. 26-27 during IFAI’s Expo in New Orleans. Laurie Mease will outline U.S. government programs and resources available to companies that want to bring new smart fabrics technologies to market. Nathaniel Bolin, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, will discuss export control laws and policies affecting trade and investment in advanced textiles, including the current state of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).

With some decisions possible as early as the end of this year, it’s going to be a lively fall for discussions about trade. But let’s hope the rest of the hurricane season is much more subdued.