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NC congressional delegation supports keeping textile trade rule

A knitting machine with spools of thread.

A bipartisan group of North Carolina lawmakers is calling on the Biden administration to keep trade rules in place for certain kinds of textiles.

Congress approved theDominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement — known as CAFTA-DR — almost 20 years ago. One of its provisions allows clothing companies to import yarns and fabric from six Central American nations into the U.S. without having to pay tariffs or duties. Those raw materials are made into garments by U.S. workers.

Leaders, like Republican Congressman from North Carolina Patrick McHenry (NC-10) — whose district includes Statesville, Hickory, and Lincolnton, say the rule has helped support thousands of jobs in his western district. The state is number one in the nation for textile production.

McHenry and other members of the state's congressional delegationhave signed a letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo. They want her to leave the rule in place.

Some textile importers, however, want it changed to allow duty-free shipments from China and Vietnam. The letter says the rule's "investment-based structure is a key economic driver in the Western Hemisphere and essential to stemming outward migration."

The letter warns allowing duty-free imports from other countries could collapse the Central American supply chain and put American jobs at risk.

Bradley George is WUNC's AM reporter. A North Carolina native, his public radio career has taken him to Atlanta, Birmingham, Nashville and most recently WUSF in Tampa. While there, he reported on the COVID-19 pandemic and was part of the station's Murrow award winning coverage of the 2020 election. Along the way, he has reported for NPR, Marketplace, The Takeaway, and the BBC World Service. Bradley is a graduate of Guilford College, where he majored in Theatre and German.
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