Carlos Moore Speaks To Atlanta Textile Club

Carlos Moore Speaks To Atlanta Textile ClubThe serious ills afflicting the U.S. textile industry over the past several years can be traced specifically to the Asian financial crisis better known as the Asian Flu that began in 1997, Carlos Moore, executive vice president of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI), told a meeting of the Atlanta Textile Club in late September.The U.S. textile industry, after showing signs of increased profits and production into the late 1990s, has suffered mightily since 1998.From 1992 through 1997, textile mill shipments hit new records every year, culminating in a still-record $83.9 billion in 1997. As the industry emerged from the downturn of the early 1990s, textile corporate profits hit a record $2.1 billion in 1992 and remained strong through 1998, Moore said.The devaluation of Asian currencies in 1997-98 and the resulting collapse of demand in Asia have combined to drive prices for Asian textile and apparel products to artificially low levels, Moore continued. This has caused a flood of low-priced Asian imports into the U.S. market. Consequently, textile imports from Asia have increased 80 percent since 1996. A strong U.S. dollar policy has contributed to an unprecedented three-year period of deflationary price cuts for U.S. textile products.Additionally, he said, the terrorist attacks of September 11 and the resulting economic uncertainty have cast a further cloud of apprehension about the immediate future.This is a test of survival for our industry, he said, but there are things we can do.First of all, U.S. textile companies should take advantage of opportunities presented by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI), Moore said. In addition, dyeing and finishing of products need to continue in the United States, although CBI legislation is still unclear about that issue.As well, the U.S. government needs to make federal loan guarantees available as has been done with other industries. And, finally, Moore said the industry must do its best to ensure the government does the industry no further harm through its trade negotiations and policy making.By Jim Phillips, Executive EditorNovember 2001