Sheboygan, Wisconsin, Thursday May 9, 2013 – Wigwam’s owner and CEO, Bob Chesebro, has been active in Washington lobbying on policies and issues in the textile industry that directly affect Wigwam and many other companies in the textile and apparel industry.
Recently, Bob made a visit to Washington for the NCTO (National Council of Textile Organizations) annual meeting and to lobby on a very serious issue involving the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). This trade agreement involves the United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Chile, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, and Vietnam. The issue at hand is that Vietnam is insisting on a new rule of origin (“single transformation”) in the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations that would allow it to source textiles from China and export finished apparel to the United States duty free. According to an independent study, such an outcome would devastate the Western Hemisphere textile and apparel sector, causing the loss of 1.6 million jobs. The TPP negotiations are entering their critical final year with textiles being cited by the former, USTR Ambassador Kirk as among the three most difficult negotiating areas of the TPP.
Vietnam will triple its exports of apparel to $22 billion to the United States if the new “single transformation” rule is passed. Vietnam is already the second largest apparel exporter to the U.S. with exports of $7 billion a year. According to an independent study by the O’Rourke Group, if Vietnam is successful, almost every textile company in the U.S. would suffer significant production and job losses. That is because Vietnam is targeting the same categories for growth that our industry depends on for its basic business.
Western Hemisphere apparel market share would fall from 17.8% to 10% in eight years, and 1.4 billion square meters in apparel production would be lost. Additional losses would continue over time. In addition, U.S. textile exports would decline by nearly $4 billion and 165,000 U.S. textile related jobs would be lost.
So how does this effect Wigwam? “Our concern is Vietnam. It wants to eliminate the Yarn Forward Rule in favor of weaker rules that would open up a backdoor for Chinese textile products. If Vietnam achieves its goal, then state-owned textile companies in China and Vietnam will prosper and many U.S. textile companies, will go out of business for good,” says Bob Chesebro, Owner and CEO at Wigwam.
The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) an is conducting a vigorous TPP Advocacy Campaign that will activate and expand the textile base and increase pressure from Congress to maintain strong textile rules in the TPP. NCTO, representing the U.S. Textile Industry and its Western Hemisphere partners oppose any changes to existing Fair Trade Agreement rules that would weaken the yarn-forward rule of origin.
Wigwam has been manufacturing performance socks in the United States for 108 years. Along with other domestic fiber manufacturers, yarn manufacturers, fabric manufacturer and Western Hemisphere companies Wigwam is committed to keeping the yarn forward rule that has been the cornerstone of all previous FTA’s in the textile industry. Wigwam’s independent rep force, made up of over 80 people, are personally reaching out to their Senators, and Congress men and women in order to help the NCTO in its advocacy campaign as well as get through to Washington on how this new rule could potentially damage the future of Wigwam and all individuals that have represented the brand.
Bob will be traveling to Lima, Peru for the 17th round of negotiating sessions on the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) with a delegation from NCTO and some key industry members. The negotiations start on May 15th. While there, the group will meet with member delegations from the other participating countries and with members of the U.S. negotiating team.
“We have created a business model that allows us to manufacture our socks here in the United States and have been successful in doing so for the last 108 years. We want to keep it that way,” said Bob Chesebro.
Wigwam, The Performance Sock Company, is a family owned and operated sock manufacturer that has been manufacturing performance socks in Sheboygan, WI, USA since 1905. For more information on Wigwam, go to www.wigwam.com or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wigwamsocks and Twitter at www.twitter.com/wigwamsocksusa