NCTO Commends Bipartisan Group of Senators for Calling on President Biden to Crack Down on China’s Predatory Trade Practices and Help the U.S. Textile & Apparel Industry

WASHINGTON, D.C. – National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) President and CEO Kim Glas issued a statement today, applauding the actions of a bipartisan group of senators who are raising alarm about the impact of China’s predatory trade practices on the U.S. textile and apparel industry and calling on President Joe Biden to lead a multi-agency effort to substantially step up enforcement and develop a strategic plan to combat it.

In the letter to President Biden, the senators warned that without immediate and improved enforcement against these predatory trade practices, the U.S. textile and apparel sector faces a “coming disaster.”

The letter, led by U.S. Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), was also signed by Senators Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Ted Budd (R-NC), J.D. Vance (R-OH), Tim Scott (R-SC), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM).

Please see a link to their joint press release here.

NCTO President and CEO Kim Glas, said: “I want to thank Senator Tillis and Senator Brown for leading these efforts and strongly commend the bipartisan group of senators for taking the lead in calling on President Biden and the administration to take urgent action to address a wide range of illegal trade practices that are severely impacting the U.S. textile and apparel industry.”

“The industry is being overwhelmed by a multitude of compounding factors, including a lack of effective customs enforcement, unfair trade practices fueled by a loophole in U.S. trade law known as ‘de minimis’ shipments, import fraud undermining our free trade agreements (FTAs) and their rules of origin, and forced labor in our supply chains making their way into the United States and through other markets,” Glas said.

The senators’ letter calls on the administration to take the following specific actions:

  • Step up enforcement of forced labor subsidized textiles and apparel flooding into our FTAs
  • End duty-free treatment for clothing made with forced labor under de minimis
  • Review all executive authorities to hold China accountable for its predatory trade practices

“To maintain the industry’s operations and competitiveness, the administration must take immediate steps to increase its enforcement activities and crack down on systemic abuse that is undermining the very fabric of our domestic textile supply chain and its workforce,” Glas added.


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

VA’s Inaction in Implementing the Make PPE in America Act is Hurting American Textile and Apparel Manufacturers

It has been 19 long months since legislation designed to increase federal purchases of American-made PPE was enacted, but the inaction of at least one key federal agency in purchasing more domestically-produced items is posing a threat to the very U.S. supply chain that stepped up overnight to protect our nation during the COVID pandemic.

Fortunately, at least, one congressional oversight committee is taking notice.

The overarching question on the mind of many U.S. textile and apparel executives who retooled production lines to produce millions of facemasks, hospital gowns and other critical PPE items at the height of the pandemic is whether they will ever see a demand signal and contracts from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

This leading agency which procures PPE for the government seems to be mired in bureaucratic red tape when it comes to fully implementing a strategic plan to purchase more American-made PPE, as mandated by law.

The legislation at the heart of the matter—the Make PPE in America Act, which took effect in February 2022—requires that all PPE purchased by the Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS), Homeland Security (DHS) and VA be made by manufacturers in the United States using domestic components.

Last week, a House congressional oversight committee held a hearing and finally started asking the right questions of VA officials.

On Thursday, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs’ (HVAC) Subcommittee on Oversight & Investigations held a hearing on “VA Procurement: Made in America,” to explore the agency’s action plan on several Made in America policies, including the Make PPE in America Act.

The chairwoman of the oversight subcommittee, Rep. Jen Kiggans (R-VA), raised concerns about the VA’s inaction and lack of a strategic plan.

“Congress and both this administration and the Trump administration made it a priority to ensure the federal government is buying American-made products,” Kiggans said in her opening statement.

However, she expressed serious concerns about the VA’s approach, noting that a year and a half after the law was enacted, “there appears to be very little that has changed.”

“I understand that new legislation takes time to implement, but issues at the VA don’t normally get better with time. A recent inspector general report highlighted significant issues with VA’s compliance with decades-old Made in America laws.”

She also noted it is concerning that she has heard from industry leaders that as recently as a few months ago the VA “didn’t even seem to have a plan to implement the law.”

See her remarks here: | Video Credit: Rebecca Tantillo

“Many American companies have overhauled their production lines to meet the demand for world-class goods and supplies,” Kiggans said. “The VA must similarly change their procurement process to step up their outreach and market research to identify opportunities to work with American companies. I’m concerned many of these companies will be forced to close down their operations if the VA doesn’t immediately follow the law and take a more proactive approach to buying American.”

“Relying on foreign products in a time of crisis is a flawed strategy that unfortunately was felt directly by the VA employees and veterans,”said Rep. Frank Mrvan (D-IN) in his opening remarks. “This requires a concerted effort across VA to comply with the laws and the presidential directives in place to provide opportunities for American companies to provide personal protective equipment and other supplies.”

“Without a consistent demand for these products, we cannot ensure that American companies will be around for the next crisis,” he added.

In his written submission and opening remarks at the hearing, Michael Parrish, the VA’s Principal Executive Director of the Office of Acquisition, Logistics and Construction and Chief Acquisition Officer, stressed the agency is committed to full implementation of its statutory requirements but noted “achieving the goals espoused in these statutes, policies and executive orders takes time.”

He acknowledged that availability of 100% domestically-produced PPE “requires a clear and organized federal demand signal to support the existing and future industry investments, innovation as well as a long-term commitment. VA is committed to working with other Federal agencies to communicate to industry the importance of domestically-produced PPE.”

He claimed the VA has found in many instances that inputs of PPE are “not yet [manufactured] in the U.S. and raw materials are manufactured overseas.”

This statement will undoubtedly cause concern among NCTO member companies who have worked vigilantly to be certified over the past three years and repeatedly communicated to the VA and other agencies that there is an existing supply chain ready and able to meet their procurement needs. The root of the problem is not lack of capacity, but rather lack of planning, strategy and demand signal on the part of the VA.

Parrish said the VA has taken the following steps thus far: developing an executable acquisition strategy for each PPE item identified in the Make PPE in America Act that has been prioritized for action; developing common requirements and an acquisition strategy for all items on the consensus PPE list by the end of calendar year 2023; and reporting noteworthy accomplishments towards the development of a long-term PPE strategy under the President’s Management Agenda.

Following a multi-agency Make PPE in America Industry Day in April, at which NCTO President and CEO Kim Glas participated in a panel discussion, Parrish said the VA issued a request for information to Blanket Purchase Agreement holders participating in the VA’s MSVP program to “gauge how many are fully compliant with Made in America Act requirements.”

“To date, through vendor self-certification, VA has identified 129 items on its MSPV product list that are 100% Made in America compliant,” Parrish said in his written submission.

Among the PPE items that are not yet compliant are things like nitrile gloves, he noted.

“The journey requires support beyond the Federal health care space of VA (and DoD) to achieve the goal, maintain supply chain resiliency and reduce dependency on overseas markets for PPE requirements ranging from raw materials to finished products,” Parrish noted.

Rep. Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen (R-AS), a non-voting delegate in the House of Representatives, asked a series of questions related specifically to the VA’s implementation efforts, noting that she has met with manufacturing associations representing American PPE producers that “feel they are being underutilized by the VA.”

Radewagen asked VA officials testifying at the hearing to explain the process for identifying domestic PPE sources, whether the VA has entered into any PPE procurement contracts since the law was enacted; and, if so, what percentage of these contracts are compliant with the Make PPE in America Act as well as how the VA ensures the PPE it purchases from its vendors is compliant with the Make PPE in America Act.

Andrew Centineo, Executive Director of Procurement and Logistics for the VA in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, said several agencies met with industry partners in April at the government-sponsored Industry Day and have since held medical surgical prime vendor industry opportunities, in addition to biweekly engagements with industry.

He said the feedback he has received from industry is that it will provide the products but it needs assurances the demand signal from the VA and other agencies is there.

See the full exchange with VA officials here: | Video Credit: Rebecca Tantillo

NCTO has been strongly advocating for full implementation of the legislation and pushing for a strong demand signal for American-made PPE.

See an op-ed by NCTO President and CEO Kim Glas here: Opinion: The Time to Act on American-Made PPE Is Now.

In addition, Glas participated in the multi-agency Make PPE in America Day in April.

See three clips from her remarks here:

This failure to date on the part of the VA and the lack of a demand signal from agencies and the private hospital sector is hurting U.S. textile and apparel manufacturers that retooled production chains overnight and are now left sitting with idled capacity and very few purchasing orders.

Three NCTO member companies outlined their concerns in a press release last week.

“The VA and all federal agencies need to fully implement this law immediately. It is critical to the viability of the domestic PPE supply chain and to our nation’s long-term health and national security,” Glas said in the statement. Without the commitment, our manufacturers will be forced to shutter operations and the PPE domestic supply chain will disappear, leaving our country overly reliant once again on unreliable imports from China and other foreign suppliers,” she added.


NCTO Chairman Norman Chapman Outlines Priority Issues for U.S. Textile Industry

NCTO Chairman Norman Chapman, who is president and CEO of Inman Mills, recently outlined a wide range of policy issues the organization is engaged in this year to maintain the domestic textile industry’s competitiveness, expand its investments and exports, and strengthen customs enforcement of illegal trade practices.

Speaking at a Southern Textile Association’s conference on Aug. 23 in Belmont, N.C., Chapman explained the important role NCTO plays in representing the industry’s voice in Washington.

“Good representation in Washington is critical for our long-term survival as an industry,” Chapman told the audience. “As I have heard [Parkdale Mills Chairman and CEO] Andy Warlick say many times, ‘If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.’ It’s important to not be on the menu. I’ve been in Washington quite a bit lately. I can assure you that we’re not on the menu. We’re absolutely at the table and we’re well represented on both sides of the aisle.”

Chapman said the industry “performed remarkably well during the pandemic and got a lot of people’s attention in Washington. So, we are in a position to play a little more offense, but we do spend a lot of our time defending the industry.”

Onshoring and Nearshoring Textile and Apparel Manufacturing—Maintaining Strong Textile Rules in CAFTA-DR

NCTO has engaged heavily in promoting the importance of the co-production chain with Central America and other Western Hemisphere trade partners.

Central to growth and investment in the region is maintaining strong rules of origin in the United States-Dominican Republic Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), which has facilitated$15.1 billion in two-way trade and supports a co-production chain supporting more than 1 million workers in the U.S. and Central America.

As nearshoring and onshoring trends continue to gain momentum, some $2 billion of textile and apparel investment has gone into Central America and the U.S. over the past 18 months.

NCTO hosted or participated in numerous congressional and administration visits to CAFTA-DR and U.S. textile facilities over the last 18 months, and conducted over 30 joint congressional meetings in February with regional partners.

During his presentation at the STA conference, Chapman discussed the importance of this region and the strong rules of origin in free trade agreements that help facilitate trade and support U.S. and regional textile and apparel industries.

“The yarn-forward rule is at the heart of our free trade agreements and prevents non-signatory countries from being able to get a free ride,” he said.

study conducted by Werner International found that it is “reasonable and achievable to double the trade out of CAFTA-DR to the U.S. in the coming years.” It would equate to additional investments totaling $6 billion, creating 180,000 jobs in the U.S. textile industry and 2.17 million jobs in the CAFTA-DR region creating even more resilient supply chains, according to the study.

But Chapman warned that some importers have been trying to “rewrite the rules” and dismantle CAFTA-DR, calling for expansion of the short supply provision in the agreement, which would ultimately  give China a back door to a free trade deal it is not a party to and displace existing production and investment in the region and the U.S. Thanks to the work of NCTO, the administration and a significant bipartisan group of lawmakers have continued to voice support for maintaining strong textile rules.

“Fortunately, today, the Biden administration has acknowledged the value of the yarn-forward rule and indicated they do not intend to undermine the rule or change the process of short supply,” Chapman said. “And NCTO is also working on a win-win proposal exploring unique policy solutions around taxation.”

China 301 Tariffs

Chapman also outlined the importance of maintaining the Section 301 China penalty tariffs on finished apparel and textiles, outlining when they were first implemented by the Trump administration and subsequently continued by the Biden administration.

“Virtually everything from China has a 301penalty tariff on it,” Chapman noted, explaining that the tariffs are linked to intellectual property theft by the Chinese government.

NCTO’s objectives include supporting the continuance of the penalty tariffs on finished textile and apparel products, while allowing for exclusions on manufacturing inputs and machinery not available elsewhere. In addition, the organization supports letting the remaining exclusions for finished personal protective equipment (PPE) products expire, given the capacity of U.S. producers and that of our free trade agreement partners.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office is currently undergoing a statutory 4-year review process.

Last summer, representatives of domestic industries benefitting from the trade actions requested a continuation of the tariffs, launching a next phase of review.

NCTO and the U.S. Industrial and Narrow Fabrics Institute (USINFI) filed a joint formal submission

to the U.S. Trade Representative’s office in January, outlining how the 301 tariffs on finished apparel and textiles counteract China’s unfair trade advantage and give U.S. manufacturers a chance to compete.

“Obviously, we would like to keep these tariffs in place,” Chapman said, while letting exceptions for PPE imports expire. “The textile industry made a tremendous amount of PPE during the pandemic that reverted back to China very quickly afterwards,” he added.

NCTO textile leaders also recently met with U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Katherine Tai, in Washington whom Chapman noted has been “very supportive of our industry.”

“She also toured some of our facilities down here and her support will be critical in our fight to keep the 301 tariffs,” Chapman said.

Enforcement of the UFLPA

Customs enforcement of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA), which bans the importation of products made with forced labor in Xinjiang, China, is also a major focus area for NCTO.

China has been illegally forcing Uyghur ethnic minority population in Xinjiang to harvest cotton and produce cotton apparel in China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR), according to countless news reports and investigations by human rights organizations. The Chinese government, according to numerous reports and investigative news reports, have detailed nearly 1 million Uyghurs, in Xinjiang, where they have been subjected to torture, forced labor, religious restrictions and even forced sterilization.

Chapman also noted that 20% of the world’s cotton is grown in Xinjiang while 85% of China’s cotton is grown in the region,

NCTO continues to engage with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials, other administration officials and key allies on Capitol Hill to press for more enforcement of this critical legislation.

Closing the De Minimis Loophole

Another major focus area for NCTO is closing a legal loophole in U.S. trade law, known as Section 321 de minimis waivers.

De minimis shipments, which have exploded in recent years with the growth of e-commerce, are undermining efforts to hold China accountable and the nation’s ability to enforce the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA).

The de minimis trade loophole is being aggressively used by e-commerce companies and mass marketers.  It allows goods valued at $800 or less per person to arrive at our doorsteps duty-free each day through e-commerce.  U.S. officials estimate approximately 2.7 million de minimis packages enter the U.S. market each day that otherwise would be subject to tariffs, penalty tariffs, taxes and customs inspection. In addition, de minimis shipments are being utilized to facilitate Xinjiang forced labor apparel into our closets.

“All countries have different de minimis values. China’s de minimis value is $7. Unfortunately, [certain} Chinese companies have mined our trade laws and use this de minimis law to import their product from China into the U.S., completely duty free,” Chapman said.

“The unfortunate thing is we don’t know what’s in them. They completely bypass customs. They are self-declared on value and [inspected] through random sampling,” he added.

Further, over 50% of these shipments contain apparel products.

“So, this has literally become a free trade agreement for China. As I mentioned, there are 301 penalty tariffs. They don’t pay the penalty tariffs. They’re duties on textiles that come into the U.S. They don’t pay duty. This is widely recognized as a problem in Washington, but there’s a real fight on our hands,” Chapman said.

Legislative Priorities

On the legislative front, Chapman outlined several other top areas of engagement, including efforts to push Congress to reauthorize the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB), which is legislation that temporarily suspends or reduces import tariffs on manufacturing inputs that are unavailable domestically. Textile manufacturers benefit from duty breaks on inputs such as acrylic and rayon fibers and various chemicals that are not produced in the U.S. The MTB bill lapsed at the end of 2020 and Congress has thus far not advanced legislation to reauthorize it.

NCTO is also engaged in working with Congress to pass the FY 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes an economic impact assessment and language to strengthen the Berry Amendment by covering additional purchases of home furnishing items.

Equally as important is passage of a new farm bill.

The farm bill is up for a 5-year renewal this year and Congress is currently considering the legislation.

Various cotton and textile programs are contained in the farm bill that are important to NCTO as well as to the National Cotton Council (NCC).

They include renewal of: the Economic Adjustment Assistance for Textile Manufacturers program (EAATM), Pima Cotton Trust Fund and Wool Manufacturers Trust Fund.

“This is very important legislation for us to get wrapped up,” Chapman said.