than 4 years has played a major role in implementing the US government’s textile and apparel trade
policies, is retiring this month. As deputy assistant secretary for textiles and apparel in the
International Trade Administration of the Department of Commerce, Leonard was chairman of the
Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements (CITA), the interagency group that develops
procedures and carries out textile and apparel trade policies.
During his term as deputy assistant secretary, Leonard was at the center of some of the
department’s often controversial, but far-reaching policies, including overseeing the North America
Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement
(CAFTA-DR) and the 25 free trade agreements (FTAs) the Bush administration has negotiated. Probably
the most significant effort was the development of procedures that led to the imposition of
safeguard quotas on Chinese textile and apparel imports. In connection with the FTAs, CITA and the
US Trade Representative have continued a yarn-forward provision first established in connection
with NAFTA. That principle requires products benefiting from duty-fee, quota-free treatment be made
in the participating countries. In some cases, there are provisions permitting a specified amount
of goods to contain inputs from non-participating countries, something that was supported by
importers but strongly opposed by textile manufacturers.
In an interview with Textile World as he prepared to step down, Leonard said major changes
have taken place in the textile industry and the international trade picture. He noted the industry
is much smaller with fewer companies, but believes there are opportunities for the surviving
companies if they are willing and able to adjust to the changing world trade picture. He cited
industrial textiles and the military as areas where innovations are leading to development of new
products. In addition, he is convinced there are export opportunities for those countries willing
to make the commitment to do so. He says there already is a resurgence of interest in exporting by
an increasing number of textile and apparel companies, and he adds that his agency has been
strongly promoting exports and will continue to do so.
Looking to the future, Leonard said the Bush administration has made it clear it is on a
track to liberalize world trade, including textiles and apparel. He said there likely will be more
FTAs, and administration officials will continue to pursue the Doha Round of trade liberalization
negotiations, which currently is on dead center. In addition, a big job lies ahead in implementing
Prior to entering government service Leonard worked for Greensboro, N.C.-based Burlington
Industries — now part of International Textile Group — for 34 years. He plans to return to North
Carolina, where he hopes to stay involved with the textile industry and textile trade.
September 12, 2006