Textile Execs Discuss Nearshoring Trends, Policies to Bolster the U.S. Textile Industry’s Competitiveness

NCTO President and CEO Kim Glas joined David Smith, Executive Vice President of Milliken & Company’s Textile Division and Bob Antoshak, partner at Gherzi Textile Organization, in a timely panel discussion on the trends driving nearshoring and onshoring of textile and apparel production last month.

The panel discussion, titled the “ABC’s of Nearshoring,” was held at Texworld in New York City on July 19.

The dynamic discussion touched on several key trade issues impacting the industry, including the yarn forward rule of origin in CAFTA-DR and USMCA, Section 301 tariffs and the Section 321 de minimis loophole. It also highlighted the significant investment—$2 billion in the CAFTA region in the past 18 months—and how companies can capitalize on moving production close to home.

In her opening remarks, NCTO’s Kim Glas pointed to several trends showcasing that nearshoring continues to build momentum, though apparel and textile trade is currently in a slump globally.

“It’s here to stay and it’s going to grow in the future,” Glas said, pointing to the $2 billion in new investment in both the U.S. and Central America, “as brands and retailers continue to look at ways to diversify their supply chains.”

Glas also said 2022 was a banner year for two-way textile and apparel trade with Central America, which hit $15 billion. Notably, 81 percent of U.S. exports of spun yarns go to the CAFTA-DR countries.

That is why she said she is “bullish on the future,” despite the recent dip in trade. She said the co-production chain employing more than 1.1 million workers collectively is predicated on the yarn forward rule of origin in free trade agreements such as CAFTA-DR.

Rules of origin help drive investment in yarn and fabric production. COVID created a shift in many people’s minds and drove companies to recalibrate their supply chains to diversify out of China and move production closer to market, she added.

Milliken’s David Smith stressed that the region has the capacity and capability to meet brands’ and retailers’ needs.

“Chances are the U.S. and the regional textile industry has the capabilities and the capacity to meet your needs. And if there are any gaps, I think you’ll find a listening ear and a willingness to work with you to eliminate those voids,” as reported by Sourcing Journal. “The industry is investing and growing the perception that we have limited yarn capacity or weaving capacity in the region. And when I say in the region, I’m including in the U.S.”

And he noted that just doubling apparel and textile exports from Central America, which has a U.S. import market share below 10 percent, would translate into $6 billion in investment and generate 187,000 new textile and apparel jobs in the U.S. and 2.2 million jobs in Central America.

“All we are looking for is a willing partner,” Smith said.