U.S. Textile Industry Calls for Tariffs on Imported Textiles and Apparel End Products

The U.S. textile industry has asked the Trump administration to place tariffs on certain textile and apparel products made by China that may infringe on U.S. companies’ intellectual-property rights.

At a May 17 hearing at the U.S. Trade Representative’s offices in Washington, D.C., Auggie Tantillo, president and chief executive of the National Council of Textile Organizations, said the U.S. textile industry “strongly supports the Trump administration’s case to sanction China’s rampant intellectual-property–rights theft.”

Hearings took place over three days to get feedback on President Trump’s plan to levy $50 billion in tariffs on China for unfair trade practices under Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act.

“China’s domination of global textile markets has clearly been aided by its rampant theft of U.S. textile intellectual property. From the violation of patents on high-performance fibers, yarns and fabrics to the infringement of copyrighted designs on textile home furnishings, China has gained pricing advantages through blatantly illegal activities,” Tantillo said. “Putting [Section] 301 tariffs on Chinese textile and apparel exports would send a long-overdue signal that these predatory actions will no longer be tolerated.”

Tantillo told the story of a U.S. manufacturer and holder of various patents on fabrics that have highly complex constructions. They are so sophisticated, he said, they are used in the U.S. military’s “Generation III Extended Cold Weather Clothing System.” One patent covers a composite fabric that is designed to rapidly remove moisture from the skin. It has an outer-layer fabric made of highly absorbent materials and a second inner layer fabric formed with both vertical and horizontal channels, constructed from yarns with a plurality of fibers.

“Despite being solely responsible for these inventions and holding the patents for these products, the U.S. manufacturer finds itself competing against its own fabrics in activewear markets at home and abroad,” he said. “The company has identified garments imported by numerous major U.S. brands that violate their patents. In each of these instances, the infringing fabric was made in China.”

He noted that a U.S. company produces an advanced textile structure for the telecommunications sector that they have made in China for sale in Asian markets. The company obtained numerous patents, including invention patents and utility models in China. Despite those protections, several Chinese companies have knocked off this product in several provinces, Tantillo said.

However, the U.S. textile industry does not want any tariffs placed on imported textile machinery because virtually no textile machinery is made in the United States anymore.