Memorial Day: Celebrating American Textiles & the U.S. Military

Every Memorial Day, Americans pause to honor the lives of those who have died serving our country as a member of the U.S. military. It is a day dedicated to their heroic sacrifices based on a belief in American values and the hope for a better future. It’s also a day for celebration. As the official kickoff to the summer season, it is a day for community, barbeques, and setting our minds to the warm summer days ahead.

In the spirit of honoring our military heroes and anticipating the excitement of summer, the National Council of Textile Organizations celebrates Memorial Day with a look at some of the unique aspects of the U.S. textile supply chain and its role in serving our heroes in uniform.

The history of the U.S. textile industry’s service to the U.S. military is as old as the military itself. From the uniforms soldiers rely on for protection from the elements to the flags hoisted high above our causes, American textiles have always held a critical role in military operations and symbolism.

That history of course still thrives today. As the face of modern warfare has evolved, U.S. textile technology has kept pace by consistently developing new, cutting-edge textile technology to ensure the top performance and protection our warfighters demand and deserve. Each year, the U.S. textile industry supplies over 8,000 different types of products, ranging from advanced body amor to aircraft bodies, to our men and women in uniform, making it a key contributor to our national defense and supplies.

Further, the development of textile innovations for military use plays a critical role in U.S. textile competitiveness within the global market, while giving consumers access to sophisticated textile products useful for their everyday lives. For example, everyday products from Kleenex to Kevlar are available today thanks to military-funded research and development. And it’s no surprise that textiles developed for military use are amongst the most innovative in the world. In fact, the United States is the world leader in textile research and development, with the U.S. textile complex developing next generation textile materials such as conductive fabric with anti-static properties, electronic textiles that can monitor heart rate and other vital signs, antimicrobial fibers, and new fabrics that adapt to the climate to make the wearer warmer or cooler. To ensure that the continued research and manufacturing needed to provide high-performance textile materials to the U.S. military comes from a reliable source in times of crisis, those products must be supplied by a vibrant American textile production chain.

Still, the research and development needed to produce such innovations requires significant financial commitments. From 2012 to 2021, the U.S. textile industry invested $20.9 billion in new plants and equipment. During this time, U.S. manufacturers opened new facilities throughout the textile production chain, including recycling facilities to convert textile and other waste to new textile uses and resins.

But industry cannot carry this financial burden alone. With extreme competition from offshore manufacturers with varying ethical and sustainability practices and oversight, U.S. textile manufacturers are often left competing against low-cost suppliers with substandard environmental, workplace safety and labor practices. As we saw at the onset of COVID-19 in 2020, our reliance on such offshore suppliers and their production chains leaves the U.S. vulnerable when confronted with a health pandemic or a serious challenge to our national security.

For that reason, it is beyond necessary to bolster our industry’s efforts to equip our military through federal legislation and procurement practices that prioritize domestic manufacturing. This can be done by preserving and expanding key legislation, such as the Kissell and Berry Amendments, which require the domestic production of textiles procured by the Department of Defense and some agencies within the Department of Homeland Security.. In addition, it is critical that we support international trade arrangements and free trade agreements that spur the use of domestic content, such as CAFTA-DR. These mechanisms, combined with the industry’s history of research-based innovation, are the backbone of the more than 30,000 textile manufacturing facilities both big and small across the United States that employ over 538,000 domestic workers who are responsible for an annual output of over $66 billion. Their combined efforts make the U.S. the third largest exporter of textile-related products globally.

It is also critical that our government agencies expeditiously implement recently adopted legislation governing domestic procurement, such as the Make PPE in America Act. This legislation, which resulted from the harsh lessons learned during the supply chain crises of COVID-19, is designed to reshore and maintain a strategic personal protective equipment (PPE) production chain in the United States by requiring that the Departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs procure only PPE that is wholly made (i.e., 100 percent made in the USA, from the production of the fiber to the yarn, fabric, and finished product) and assembled in the U.S. This important legislation also requires a contract duration for federally procured PPE of no less than two years. Such long-term commitments provide domestic manufacturers with a consistent demand signal that allows them to invest, plan, develop and deliver the medical protective goods our government and nation depend on for safety and security.

It does not take much to see why U.S. textiles are a quintessential story of American spirit and industry. So, as we take this holiday to pause and celebrate our fallen heroes and the freedoms their sacrifices allow us to enjoy, let us also celebrate the rich history of American textiles as a critical part of our national defense. Thanks to manufacturing efforts such as theirs, American warfighters can rely on the highest quality, most sophisticated and dependable military uniforms, protective materials and gear that also drive the innovations for textile products average Americans use every day. By keeping critical supply chains and their research close to home, Americans are guaranteed more sustainable and reliable access to essential products when we need them most.

This Memorial Day, let’s remember the sacrifices of our fellow Americans and enjoy the life they fought to protect. As consumers, let’s prioritize American-made products and, by doing so, support our national defense and invest in our future.

Bipartisan Group of 38 Lawmakers Sends Letter to Secretary of Commerce Urging Support of Strong CAFTA-DR Rules of Origin & Warning Against Importer-led Attempts to Change Rules

WASHINGTON –A bipartisan group of 38 lawmakers sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo urging her support of the current rules of origin in the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) that are working to spur significant investment and employment in the region.

The lawmakers also warned that attempts by certain importers to amend the rules would open the back door to China and significantly harm investment in the U.S. -CAFTA region and the vibrant textile and apparel co-production chain in the U.S. and the region, which employs more than one million workers.

“The rules of origin governing textile and apparel production and trade under CAFTA-DR have clear benefits and have strengthened our regional supply chains by fostering a stable business environment where American and regional manufacturers can thrive. We strongly urge you to continue following the longstanding CAFTA-DR short supply list process, which requires requestors to submit public petitions for review, and reject requests to circumvent it,” the letter states.

“Bypassing the existing short supply petition and review system could result in non-signatory nations gaining a backdoor entrance to CAFTA-DR benefits. We fear that the People’s Republic of China (PRC), as the dominant global supplier of yarns and fabrics, would be the major winner under this proposal,” they wrote.

Please also see a press release from Rep. McHenry here quoting NCTO President and CEO Kim Glas.

The letter, made public today, was sent in advance of a Senate Finance Subcommittee hearing titled, “Economic Cooperation for a Stronger and More Resilient Western Hemisphere,” scheduled for today at 3 pm.

Many in Congress and the administration have maintained support for a strong rules-based CAFTA-DR. Most recently, U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Katherine Tai, voiced her strong support for the current CAFTA-DR rules in a special video presentation at NCTO’s annual meeting at the end of March. See her remarks here.


NCTO is a Washington, DC-based trade association that represents domestic textile manufacturers.

  •    U.S. employment in the textile supply chain was 538,067 in 2022.
  • The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $65.8 billion in 2022.
  • U.S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $34 billion in 2022.
  • Capital expenditures for textiles and apparel production totaled $2.27 billion in 2021, the last year for which data is available.


Kristi Ellis

Vice President, Communications

National Council of Textile Organizations |  202.684.3091

Congressional Scrutiny Intensifies Over De Minimis Loophole Bipartisan Concern Mounts

Congressional and federal regulatory scrutiny of Chinese imports entering the U.S. through a trade loophole in U.S. trade law has intensified over the past few weeks, as calls to address and potentially change a little-known legal trade mechanism known as “Section 321 de minimis” continue to gain momentum.

Key Republican and Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill, including the House Ways & Means Chairman, the Chairman of the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and senators have weighed in on this mechanism.

The de minimis provision of U.S. trade law allows a package of goods valued at $800 or less per person to come into the country duty free everyday through e-commerce. And it is now being aggressively used, letting millions of products into the U.S. market duty free that otherwise would be subject to tariffs, penalty tariffs, taxes and customs inspection.

In 2016, the U.S. government raised the de minimis threshold to $800 while the Chinese government kept its own threshold at meager $8. Since then, e-commerce shipments from China have exploded, reportedly driven in large part by Chinese e-commerce companies and other mass marketers, which have enjoyed meteoric growth.

In fact, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) estimates that we are on pace to hit over 1 billion in de minimis shipments this year alone, which equates to approximately 2.7 million shipments a day. This is estimated to be the highest spike in de minimis imports—up from 2 million shipments per day in fiscal year 2021. To provide further context to the alarming nature of this exponential growth in de minimis shipments, CBP data estimates that these shipments totaled only 150 million in fiscal 2016—the year Congress increased the de minimis threshold from $200 to $800.

Congressional leaders have recently sounded the alarm about the de minimis mechanism.

Most recently, Sen. Marco Rubio penned an op-ed published in Newsweek on the de minimis loophole that is reportedly allowing goods made with forced labor to enter into the United States unchecked and undermining the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA). Sen. Rubio says it is time to “reevaluate our nation’s de minimis standards.”

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), ranking member on the Ways & Means trade subcommittee, who is the lead sponsor of legislation aimed at prohibiting goods from non-market economies that are also on a government trade watchlist–China—from benefiting from de minimis treatment, said at a House Ways & Means hearing on May 9 that he planned to reintroduce his legislation in this session of Congress, and he appeared to gain some support from Chairman Smith.

He said companies use “creative invoicing” on imported products or shipments valued at over the $800 de minimis threshold to take advantage of the duty-free benefits and evade inspection, noting the loophole is “swallowing the exception in ways that are really detrimental to American business and the safety of American consumers.”

And in what could prove to be a defining moment, House Ways & Means Chairman Jason Smith (R-MO) agreed this is a major problem.

Their full exchange can be viewed here:

The House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) recently opened a probe into companies and brands at the center of allegations over tainted apparel tied to forced labor in Xinjiang and the reported abuse of the de minimis loophole.

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), chairman of the committee was recently on major news networks to voice concern about the aggressive use of the de minimis loophole and compliance with UFLPA. See the video clip here:

Congressman Gallagher also addressed the de minimis issue specifically in a video he released on Twitter. See the clip here:

“The de minimis exception wasn’t supposed to be a loophole for foreign businesses looking to skirt human rights legislation and taxes,” Rep. Gallagher said. “It was meant to minimize the burden on customs agents actually.”

In addition, Democratic leaders from the China Select Committee have made recent comments. See a clip here:

The National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) has been highly engaged on these issues for the past four years, raising concerns about the flagrant use of de minimis to facilitate nearly 3 million packages a day to the U.S., allowing tainted and counterfeit apparel and other consumer products to bleed into the U.S. market.

NCTO has testified at congressional hearings and engaged in numerous meetings with lawmakers and U.S. trade officials. She has also raised alarm over the issues in countless interviews and several op-eds.

See Glas’ three op-eds on de minimis here:

As Glas notes in her op-eds, “At $800, the United States has one of the highest in the world. While we hold our door wide open, the Chinese government keeps its door virtually shut [to U.S. exports]. An $800 versus $8 limit is hardly a reciprocal arrangement. Instead, we’re unilaterally giving China a massive tax and trade concession. The very least we should do is match China’s threshold.”

Meanwhile, Congress passed, and the President signed into law, the ULFPA in December 2021, there has been global condemnation about the abuse of Uyghur minorities in Xinjiang, China and numerous exposés from prominent news outlets about the use of forced labor to make widely known global apparel brands and labels.

A Bloomberg report seemingly crystallized the connections through laboratory tests conducted by the news outlet that reportedly found garments shipped to the U.S. by Shein were made with cotton from China’s Xinjiang region.

This is clearly a case of two government policies—UFLPA and an outdated de minimis mechanism– working at cross-purposes. We are seeing the unintended consequence of one policy canceling out the other.

The de minimis mechanism is literally undermining efforts to hold China accountable, hurting American manufacturing competitiveness, and stifling the government’s ability to enforce the UFLPA.

Intensifying pressure on the two Chinese e-commerce giants to change their practices is a step in the right direction but to truly address the root cause of the problem, Congress should and can act to close the de minimis loophole.

Last year, the House of Representatives passed legislation with bipartisan support that is designed to close the de minimis loophole, but the legislation to date has stalled in Congress.

Closure of this loophole will prevent companies from overtly circumventing other measures to curb China’s illegal trade practices, including the 301 tariffs and the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. And help level the playing field for American textile and apparel manufacturers.

Glen Raven Hosts Deputy Assistant Secretary Jennifer Knight, Highlighting Industry’s Competitiveness, Sustainability, Capital Investments & Jobs

WASHINGTON –Glen Raven hosted Jennifer Knight, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Textiles, Consumer Goods, Materials Industries, Critical Minerals and Metals with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration, at the company’s state-of-the art manufacturing facility in Anderson, South Carolina today, where the company manufactures its Sunbrella® flagship brand. The company is beginning to scale a major expansion plan started in 2021, illustrating continued investment and growth by a leader in the U.S. textile industry and its importance to the U.S. economy.

“We were honored to host Deputy Assistant Secretary Knight at our Sunbrella facility in Anderson, South Carolina to give her a firsthand experience of our advanced manufacturing facilities, sustainable initiatives, and the passionate work of our U.S. manufacturing teams,” said Glen Raven CEO Leib Oehmig. “The opportunity to discuss with a key trade official the impact of our nation’s global trade polices on our company and our dedicated workers is invaluable. We highlighted the importance of Glen Raven’s contribution to our local communities, as well as the critical need to maintain a domestic textile and apparel industry and to promote policies that support a resilient and competitive supply chain, innovation and research and a vibrant and well-trained workforce. We are thankful for Deputy Assistant Secretary Knight’s commitment to understanding the challenges we face in the global trade arena and appreciate the dialogue we had with her here today.”

“Public-private sector engagement is key to supporting a competitive and resilient textile and apparel supply chain and I am pleased to visit Glen Raven, a prime example of our modern domestic textile industry with its state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities for high-performance fabrics,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary Knight. “ITA continues to support American manufacturers and recognizes the importance of building an innovative, diverse and skilled workforce.”

Glen Raven, a family-owned company founded in 1880, operates five manufacturing facilities in North and South Carolina employing 2,500 people, including their joint venture with Shawmut Corporation. The company is currently in the process of scaling a $250 million multi-phase U.S. capacity expansion plan of its facilities and infrastructure to meet customer demand.

At Glen Raven, Knight toured Glen Raven’s Sunbrella® facilities, part of the company’s Custom Fabrics division, which includes flagship brands Sunbrella® and Dickson®. Glen Raven also has two other divisions, including Glen Raven Technical Fabrics with GlenGuard®, StrataTM and Glen Raven Logistics; and Trivantage, one of the nation’s largest business-to-business distributors for the awning, marine, upholstery and shade sail industries.

Glen Raven is a leader in the upholstery, marine, shading, automotive, military, geotextile, and protective workwear markets and operates national distribution and logistics subsidiaries.

Knight’s visit to Glen Raven’s Sunbrella® facilities comes at a critical time for the company and the U.S. textile supply chain, which produced $65.8 billion in output in 2021 and employed 538,000 workers. Glen Raven is part of the broader textile industry that is a critical manufacturing segment contributing to job growth, investments, and innovation. From 2012-2021, capital investment in U.S. yarn, fabric, apparel & sewn products manufacturing totals $20.9 billion.


NCTO is a Washington, DC-based trade association that represents domestic textile manufacturers.

  • U.S. employment in the textile supply chain was 538,067 in 2022.
  • The value of shipments for U.S. textiles and apparel was $65.8 billion in 2022.
  • U.S. exports of fiber, textiles and apparel were $34 billion in 2022.
  • Capital expenditures for textiles and apparel production totaled $2.27 billion in 2021, the last year for which data is available.


CONTACT: Kristi Ellis

(202) 684-3091