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Trade: Bring in the experts

My Take | February 24, 2020 | By:

by Janet Preus

I would not qualify as an expert in textile technology, but for topics discussed in our features, I can generally come up with a correlation that makes sense and provides some illumination from a journalist’s perspective.

Then there’s international trade. I’m going to have to go way back in my history and offer some very basic illustrations, so welcome back to kindergarten.

We all eat, so let’s start with food. Buy local hasn’t been “a thing” for that long. In many parts of the world, it’s buy local (or grow it yourself) or don’t eat. But for those of us who live in market areas that can afford to pay for imported food, we can eat just about any fresh food we want, just about any time of year, as long as we aren’t picky about how far it traveled to get to our grocery store. That’s assuming there is some kind of trade agreement in place between our country and the one producing the grapefruit, bananas, kiwis, or cave-aged cheese, and that’s an important assumption.

How about your clothes? If you live in the U.S., I doubt that very many of them were made in the U.S. The heated seats in your car? The cover on your boat? Aha. That was custom and was made by a local company you’ve known for years.

Let’s get into a less obvious but extremely important market area: medical textiles. Have you or a loved one had surgery in the last year? I guarantee that there were highly specialized textiles involved and I strongly suspect that if your surgery was in an American hospital, the textile products were, for the most part, made in the U.S.

The thing is, the textile (or the fiber, or the yarn) can be made in one place, and the end product in another, as you well know. This is where it gets far more complicated, in terms of trade, for those of us who are not experts. Especially right now, which is why I’ve brought in experts in this area to share insights with you. Our feature, “Trade, Tariffs and Textiles” by Dorsey & Whitney attorneys Lawrence Ward and Dave Townsend offers some straight talk, and I believe it will help to make things clearer.

If you want to dive deepr, the U.S. government has plenty of information online. Here’s an example: The “additional resources” following this brief article will give you an ample start, but that’s just one website; there are many more than you may want to tackle before making important decisions for your business, which is why I brought in the experts.

Janet Preus is senior editor of Advanced Textiles Source. She can be reached at

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