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Chapter 9
The shipping container is stacked in Shanghai and goes back throughout the Pacific
with T-shirts. The vessel travels to the south along the western side of Mexico and crosses the
Canal of Panama before heading north towards the port of Miami, and finally towards Sherry
Manufacturing's screen printing plant. The T-shirts are entering the most complicated and
difficult phase of their lives: trying to access the US market. Similar experiences are shaped with
Chinese T-Shirts and immigrants in trying to reach America. It is costly, risky and often illegal in
both cases. An army is waiting for the invasion at the shore. The U.S. clothing industry lost its
race, and although this could be the result of "a happy competition of causes," according to
David Hume in 1748, not everyone is happy with it. The majority of American South has
progressed and risen from textiles, but pockets are still in the center of the economy and the
community across Carolina and Georgia. Losers in the U.S. industry, in particular when they lose
to China, don't go gracefully. The textile and clothing industry is the most controlled and
protected US manufacturing industry. History, or, as one writer noted, “the most spectacular and
comprehensive protectionist regime in existence.”
Sherry Manufacture owner Gary Sandler in Miami is faced with an awful task to
maintain its compliance with the rules on T-shirt imports into the U.S. In other words, the rules
are nuts, as even the people who agreed with them willingly.
Under the CAFTA of 2006, Sherry Manufacturing can import clothes without tariff
and quantitative limitations from El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and the
Dominican Republic. Costa Rica should soon become a member of the agreement in mid-2008.
In order for clothing to be duty free on the U.S. market, however, it must generally
comply with the yarn forward test which requires that each step to be taken in one of the Member
States of clothing production following the spinning of the' forward' yarn. For a T-shirt, the rule
means you must spun the yarn, make the cloth and sew it in a Member State. In fact, the
requirement for yarn forward is an advantage for U.S. textile mills because it limits Central
American manufacturers ' ability to supply yarn, yarn and fabric from outside and thus creates a
captive market for U.S. yarn spinners and manufacturers.
Finally, a multi-annual negotiations were finally concluded in 2008 on the pocketing
provisions of the CAFTA. The fabric that included the "essential feature" of the garment was
required in the original agreement to meet the different tests. Blue jeans, for example, are the'
essential character' of blue jeans and are governed by the rules. In 2008, however, American
textile interests succeeded in inserting a pocketing arrangement requiring pocketing fabrics to
fulfill the requirements for yarn origination. In summer 2008, the United States. The Textile and
Apparel Importers Association offered seminars to help distributors understand the new rules for
In 2008, the cotton t-shirts which did not meet the "preferential therapy" requirements
were charged for import tariffs of 16.5 %, except for imports from Jordan, Israel, Bahrain, Peru
or Morocco, because they were coming from countries outside of AGOA, CBTPA, ADTPA, C
AFTA or NAFTA or due to their failure to meet the origin requirements of the material or yarn.
For these countries, the tariff is reduced to zero by bilateral agreements if certain tests take place
on the T-shirts, and the tariff was 15.5 percent for most Australian T-shirts. Perhaps half a dozen
other free trade agreements had been negotiated and implemented at various stages by July 2008,
each with slightly different rules for t-shirts, naturally. Finally, a special "monitoring agreement,"
which allowed the US to take unilateral measures in order to reduce imports if US textile or
apparel manufacturers were endangered, was concluded by Vietnam–the country that many
believe would be the next stop in the race to the ground.
Overall hundreds of lobbyists and lawyers as well as bureaucrats from the US
Treasury Department, the Department of Commerce, the Congressional Textile Caucus, write
down, manage, and enforce the restrictions and regulations governing imports of clothing. The
Trade Representative and the Interdepartmental Textile Agreements Implementation Committee.
A leading textbook actually shows how government involvement in textiles and apparel trade
policy links to the interlocking web with a full-page map of 11 boxes connected by a dozen
arrows. The US is the biggest offender, but it isn't alone. As Richard Friman has shown, to
protect their domestic textile industries, other rich countries also employ complex patchwork