National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) member Lenzing Fibers Inc. (LFI) hosted Bill Jackson, assistant U.S. trade representative for textiles in the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) office; and Lloyd Wood, deputy secretary for textiles, consumers goods and materials at the U.S. Commerce Department; for a plant tour and broad discussion on the company’s commitment to U.S. investment and the administration’s key trade and investment priorities.
The two U.S. trade officials toured Lenzing’s Axis, Alabama, facility on January 8, 2020, and met with Erwin Kuebel, site manager and president of LFI; David Adkins, commercial manager; John Patterson, finance director; Carla Miller, HR director; Bob Keene, logistics manager; and also discussed an array of general policy priorities, including the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill and continued efforts to strengthen customs enforcement. Bill Jackson also briefed the group on the pending U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
The main focus of the discussion centered around maintaining the competitiveness of the U.S. textile industry through policies designed to encourage onshoring, boost exports and support Made in USA provisions, particularly the critical Berry Amendment.
Erwin Kuebel also emphasized that Lenzing is committed to and offers sustainable solutions for the textile industry. “We produce wood-based cellulose fibers, using renewable raw materials from controlled sources. Doing this, we help to improve the eco-footprint of the industry. Lenzing is committed to reduce its CO2-footprint by 50% till 2030, and has a vision to become a CO2-neutral group of companies by 2050. Moreover: Lenzing, as a top sustainable company in the industry, is the first wood-based fiber producer with approved science-based targets.”
“We are so pleased to have two administration officials visit Lenzing, a very valued member of NCTO,” said NCTO president and CEO Kim Glas. “Lenzing is a significant innovator in the industry and has made significant investments in the U.S, helping drive the overall investment of $20 billion made by the entire industry over the past decade.”
From 2009 to 2017, capital investment in U.S. yarn, fabric, apparel and sewn products manufacturing equaled $2.04 billion, an increase of $678 million. U.S. textile and apparel shipments grew to $76.8 billion in 2018 and total employment in the textile and apparel supply chain reached 594,000 jobs.
Lenzing executives also highlighted the importance of the USMCA to the textile industry in general, which was passed by the House of Representatives in December and is expected to come to a vote in the Senate early this year, as a key way to strengthen the Western Hemisphere supply chain.
USMCA would update and replace the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The NAFTA supply chain accounts for $20 billion in annual trilateral textile and apparel trade and is important to the continued growth of the industry. The updated USMCA makes several key improvements for textile businesses, like stronger rules of origin for sewing thread, pocketing, narrow elastics and certain coating fabrics. In addition, it fixes the Kissell Amendment loophole and ensures stronger customs enforcement—all benefiting the U.S. textile industry.