Rep. Gowdy, R-S.C., organized a letter co-signed by 51 members to the US Trade Representative (USTR) urging the inclusion of strong rules of origin for textiles in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations to reduce the risk to the US textile and apparel industry from Vietnam's inclusion.

The letter said that while they recognized the opportunities represented by the TPP, “the inclusion of Vietnam could dramatically shift global trading patterns, displace critical U.S. textile and apparel jobs, and undermine important trade relationships in the Western Hemisphere that support nearly 2 million jobs.”

The co-signers included three specific recommendations: 1) establish special market access rules, given Vietnam's non-market economy status and inherent advantages provided to its textile and apparel sectors; 2) adopt the basic yarn-forward rule of origin for textiles and apparel with no loopholes (a yarn forward rule would mean that only apparel using US yarn and fabric would qualify for duty-free benefits, with all textile components in garments, including linings, narrow elastic fabrics, sewing thread and pocketing, required to originate in parties to the agreement); and 3) strengthen customs rules. The House members also encouraged USTR to handle textiles and apparel in a separate negotiating group.

The letter said it was important for USTR to recognize that Vietnam's textile and apparel production and export model is heavily influenced by its proximity to and its relationship with China.

According to the letter, the Vietnamese market does not offer significant export opportunities for US yarn and fabric producers given that China was the dominant source of Vietnam's textile and apparel inputs. It stated that Vietnam already is the second largest supplier of textiles and apparel to the United States behind China and that a partially Vietnamese state-owned company named Vinatex was the world’s 10th largest garment producer.

Other letter signers included the entire North Carolina delegation, the entire South Carolina delegation, and Reps. Roby, R-Ala., Rogers, R-Ala., Sewell, R-Ala., Grijalva, D-Ariz., Sanchez, D-Calif., Courtney, D-Conn., DeLauro, D-Conn., Barrow, D-Ga., Bishop, D-Ga., Broun, D-Ga., Gingrey, R-Ga., Johnson, D-Ga., Scott, D-Ga., Westmoreland, R-Ga., Braley, D-Ind., Latham, R-Ind., Michaud, D-Maine, McGovern, D-Maine, McCotter, R-Mich., Nunnelee, R-Miss., Pascrell Jr., D-N.J., Kaptur, D-Ohio, Sutton, D-Ohio, DeFazio, D-Ore., Marino, R-Pa., Cicilline, D-R.I., Langevin, D-R.I., Duncan Jr., R-Tenn., Roe, R-Tenn., Conaway, R-Texas, Neugebauer, R-Texas, Griffith, R-Va., and Petri, R-Wis.

Trade ministers from the TPP countries met during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Big Sky, Mont., on May 20. The next round of negotiations is scheduled to be held in Hanoi, Vietnam, in June.