Barack Obama's Letter to the National Council of Textile Organizations

Letter to the National Council of Textile Organizations
by Barack Obama

Letter to the National Council of Textile Organizations President Cass Johnson on 24 October 2008.

Cass Johnson

National Council of Textile Organizations

Dear President Johnson,

I write in response to your request for my views on trade policy, particularly as it affects the textile industry. As I hope has become clear during this campaign, my entire economic platform is built on my belief that we must change the policies that have been pursued in this country in the past eight years and instead adopt policies that put the needs of the middle class first. This is why I have proposed tax cuts for the middle class and a health care system that will make insurance affordable for everyone. I have also proposed policies specifically intended to support jobs for American workers in the manufacturing sector, like ending tax breaks that encourage outsourcing.

My trade policy rests on that same belief in change. Our country can benefit from trade, but I will insist on a trade policy that will work for all Americans. That means opening markets abroad for our manufactured exports, and including enforceable labor and environmental standards in free trade agreements. It also means strong enforcement of our trade remedy laws at home and of our trade rights abroad. I will make clear the priority I attach to enforcement and increase the resources of the Office of the United States Trade Representative devoted to this mission. When domestic industries make use of trade remedy laws that call for Presidential determinations, such as the section 421 provision applicable to imports from China, I will decide those cases on their merits, not on the basis of an ideological rejection of import relief like that of the current Administration.

A fair trading system requires fairness in each country’s foreign exchange practices. The massive current account surpluses accumulated by China are directly related to its manipulation of its currency’s value. The result is a large imbalance that is not good for the United States, not good for the global economy, and likely to create problems in China itself. China must change its policies, including its foreign exchange policies, so that it relies less on exports and more on domestic demand for its growth. That is why I have said that I will use all diplomatic means at my disposal to induce China to make these changes.

The trade policies I have just described are important for all American industries, including yours. But I am especially aware of the trade challenges faced by those working in our textile industries. When safeguards on textile imports from China expired in 2004, imports surged and thousands of jobs were lost. I support Chairman Rangel’s call for the United States International Trade Commission to monitor textile imports from China. As President, I would use monitoring to help ensure that imports from China do not violate applicable laws and treaties. I support the requirement in the Berry Amendment that the Defense Department procure only textiles made in the United States. I also support inclusion of the yarn forward rule in free trade agreements, to ensure that countries with which we enter special trade relationships do not become conduits for source yarn outside those countries.

Thank you for providing me with the views of your members on trade and competitiveness issues. I look forward to a productive working relationship with your industry.

Barack Obama