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Washington Outlook Archive

Vice Presidential Candidate Has Textile Background

James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

Sen. John F. Kerry's running mate, Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), has a strong textile industry background and has been at the forefront of the effort to get the US government to take a stronger stand against textile and apparel imports. A native of South Carolina, Edwards earned a textile degree at North Carolina State University in 1974. He obtained a law degree at the University of North Carolina in 1977 and went on to a lucrative career as a trial lawyer, something that does not wear well with much of the business community. National Association of Manufacturers President Jerry Jasinowski said, "The greatest threat to US business is not China. Its not terrorism. Its the extreme trial lawyers."

During his own campaign for the presidency, Edwards frequently talked about his father's work in textiles, as well as his own, while growing up. He called for government action to stem the loss of textile jobs to unfair foreign competition. He has been a particularly harsh critic of China's textile trade practices.

Recently, he was one of the originators of a letter to President Bush, signed by 29 senators, that called on the administration to endorse an emergency meeting of the World Trade Organization to reconsider the planned removal of all textile and apparel import quotas by the end of this year. Last fall, he was one of the signers of a letter that urged the administration to invoke the safeguard mechanism in the US-China textile bilateral agreement, reimpose quotas on textile imports, and not agree to the Central American Free Trade Agreement if it includes what the textile industry believes are loopholes that will encourage use of textiles from third countries.

July 2004