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Weekly Trade Spotlight: Textiles

On April 21, United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk will meet with the Congressional Textile Caucus to discuss the state of the American textile industry. This week’s weekly trade spotlight is on the textile industry in America.   

Throughout the United States, hundreds of thousands of Americans jobs are supported by the textile industry. This industry is diverse, with workers supporting the manufacture of goods from sewing threads to seatbelts and with mills and factories scattered across rural and urban America. Although over 44 percent of those employed from the textile industry are in Georgia, North Carolina and California, this industry employs Americans in every state.   

This industry is discovering that by exporting, businesses can grow and expand. Last year, textile and apparel exports totaled nearly $12 billion. Today, roughly 75 percent of all textiles produced in the United States are exported abroad with the majority of those exports going to countries that America has entered into free trade agreements with. In countries such as Mexico and the Dominican Republic, U.S. produced yarns and fabrics are then fashioned into finished apparel products, ready to be sold in the United States at a cheaper price for American families.   

Companies like Seydel International, based out of Pendergrass, Georgia produce chemicals involved in the manufacture of textiles that are exported to over 40 countries and employ approximately 100 workers. Today, exports account for about 20 percent of their total sales. Another small family owned business, William Usdan and Sons Inc, based out of Belleville, New Jersey exports over 15 percent of their specialty textile paper products to countries in South America, where they are made into apparel for American consumers.   

What’s more, textile exports create jobs at home and help account for approximately 500,000 American jobs. For example, Glen Raven Inc., a textile producing plant headquartered in South Carolina, employs almost 1,600 workers throughout the United States.