Textile Association Challenges Ruling On Sleeping Bags

Is a sleeping bag a textile product?

The Obama administration says it isn’t, but textile manufacturers say it is.

The controversy stems from the release by the U.S. Trade Representative of the latest
Generalized System of Preferences Review, in which the government denied a petition from Exxel
Outdoors, a manufacturer of sleeping bags, to have them classified as textile products. The
decision will allow overseas manufacturers to avoid a 9-percent tariff on a wide range of products,
including sleeping bags, that are not classified as textile products.  Congress created the
Generalized System of Tariff Preferences (GSP) in the Trade Act of 1974 to help developing
countries expand their economies by allowing certain products into the United States tariff-free.
However, textile and apparel products have been excluded from the preferential treatment because of
their import sensitivity and because developing countries often have been significant exporters of
those products.

The American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition (AMTAC) is up in arms over the decision,
claiming it fails to recognize that sleeping bags are textile products and refuses to recognize the
economic threat to U.S. manufacturers of continuing to provide duty-free treatment to sleeping bags
from developing countries.

Saying he is “incredibly disappointed” with the decision, AMTAC Executive Director Auggie
Tantillo pointed out that textile components including the fiber fill, outer-shell fabric and
sewing thread account for 96 percent of the weight and 90 percent of the value of a sleeping bag.
He also said the case gave the Obama administration an opportunity to create American jobs, but
instead favors foreign manufacturers. Tantillo called on President Barack Obama to reconsider his
decision and “properly designate” sleeping bags as textiles.

July 6, 2010