Specialty Fabrics Review March 2021 - 42

he year 2020 was not a particularly good period to assess the health of the
U.S. textile manufacturing industry-or, for that matter, many other types of
industries. But industry participants report that the optimism manufacturers
felt at the beginning of the year was still there at the end, despite the havoc
wreaked by the pandemic.
Coming into the year, the industry " had been holding its own, " says Bill
Jackson, assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Textiles, based in Washington,
D.C. Jackson, who is responsible for conducting and overseeing negotiations
affecting textile and apparel products, was the lead negotiator on textiles and
apparel for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
Some of the measures taken under the Trump administration helped, Jackson
says. " We renegotiated NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement], which
is now USMCA, and we undertook several other measures in the textile sphere to
promote greater value-added in this hemisphere. We probably haven't seen the full
impact of USMCA much yet, as the agreement entered into force in July, in the
middle of the health crisis. But I think in the long-term, there's a payoff there. "
What's happened since the beginning of the Trump administration has been
" a mixed bag, " in the eyes of Michael Lavroff, president of Jason Mills LLC, which
engineers and manufactures mesh materials, fabrics and textiles in Milltown. N.J.
" Personally, I think the tariff trade decisions were a failure, " Lavroff says.
" Those decisions did nothing but drive up our costs, since our yarn is primarily
made in China. These additional costs end up in our selling prices or we reduce
our margins. The key is to find the sweet spot between customer price increases
and margin reduction. "
On the other hand, Lavroff says, corporate tax reductions, " which were long
overdue, " served as a counterweight to the tariffs. " To me, it's a simple formula, "
he explains. " You take that tax savings and invest it in your business for such
things as inventory and employee wages and benefits. Ultimately, this additional
capital boosts your business. It's a shame the tariffs took the benefit we achieved
through tax savings. "
MADE IN AMERICA
There have been significant efforts to reshore and nearshore in the textile
industry in recent years, with varied results-and the pandemic further drew
attention to areas where reliance on imports can be particularly troublesome.
Work to reshore and nearshore has been " maybe not as successful as some
people anticipated, " says Jackson. " It's a very daunting challenge because you
still have many of the same circumstances that led many manufacturers to
move abroad, such as the cost structure in the U.S. related to labor, or
environmental considerations. "
40 SPECIALTY FABRICS REVIEW / March 2021



Specialty Fabrics Review March 2021

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Specialty Fabrics Review March 2021 - 1
Specialty Fabrics Review March 2021 - 2
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