Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Afghanistan and Pakistan Reconstruction Opportunity Zones Act of 2009

Afghanistan and Pakistan Reconstruction Opportunity Zones Act of 2009

I’m sorry to write that the US is on course to do it again and this time to Pakistan and Afghanistan with the Afghanistan and Pakistan Reconstruction Opportunity Zones Act of 2009 .
1. The US can truly influence and change the lives and conditions of the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan by simply removing all the restrictive and impossible barriers in the Afghanistan and Pakistan Reconstruction Opportunity Zones Act of 2009.
2. Most of the cotton apparel products that Pakistan can produce have been ELIMINATED from the bill and ONLY War Zone Areas qualify and on and on. Impossible controls and conditions.
3. Providing Pakistan similar terms to the ones given to Israel or even “Jordan and the QIZ” would make a dramatic positive difference. “Big Box” stores would move significant volume and hire or train professional in country managers and the cycle of employment and prosperity for the people would build and grow.
4. I don’t understand the reason for removing most cotton apparel.
a. It’s not US jobs because these have already gone. You don't have to believe me just read what's published by the Office of Textiles and Apparel . Cotton Knit Tees and Polos categories 338-339 only 3.8% of the market is MADE IN USA, Cotton Underwear category 352 only 1.5% of the market is MADE IN USA, and on and on.
b. It’s not US Customs duties because many of the US Jobs that are now gone went to countries that have Duty Free Programs with NONE of the cotton apparel RESTRAINTS laid down for Pakistan and Afghanistan.
5. I propose to get the US-Israel Free Trade Agreement and substitute Pakistan and Afghanistan for Israel. (I think Word software makes this an easy task.) And the Circle of Life will continue.
6. Even the AAFA and other retailers have written the Senate to ask for change

7. It reads like Cotton Sheets and Towels did make the duty free cut. I wonder why? I don't have the time to dig in and research if it's true.

The Underwear Maven

1 comment:

Luis said...

Dear Underwear Maven,
I enjoyed reading your recent post about the Afghanistan and Pakistan Reconstruction Opportunity Zones Act of 2009 .
The Act certainly seems like it was written by some lobbyists that represent the interest of the big players in the US apparel industry. It is no coincidence that this agreement excludes almost all the product categories such as cotton apparel that are being made or outsource by the greedy large US corporations from other duty free countries. Of course, they have already established themselves in these countries and the last thing they want is fair competition.

A press release dated June 15, quotes Congressman Van Hollen a supporter of this bill as saying that "He is open to expand the list of exports from Pakistan in consultation with American Stakeholders without taking away opportunities from American Workers and Businesses". But who are these Stakeholders? Certainly not the American Workers! The Apparel Jobs in the US are already Gone! The Stakeholders are the large Apparel Companies that have already moved the operations to offshore countries and have the benefits of other preferential programs such as CAFTA. Moreover, these corporations have also been laying off staff jobs and moving them offshore. I am sure they have an army of lobbyists pressuring the politicians to act in their best interest.
This is similar to the sock case where Hanes Brands publicly opposed to the duty free imports from Honduras because it would hurt US jobs but at the same time established a large sock operation in El Salvador . So the imports from Honduras would hurt US jobs but not the imports from El Salvador ? Please. Well, Hanes Brands won and hurt Gildan's competition! We have to admit that it is Greed, Power and Influence that shapes these trade agreements! And the US Apparel Giants knows how to play and manipulate these games!!

I personally think that this trade agreement with Pakistan it's simply a joke. The name sounds nice and impressive, " Reconstruction Opportunity Zones Act of 2009"!!!!! But it won't do much to improve the economy of Pakistan!! It constraints the production to virtually war zones which does not stimulate investment. (I wonder if the authors of this bill would be willing to relocate and start up the manufacturing operations in these regions.) And most important, it does not include the products that this country can effectively produce such as cotton garments!! It just provides incentives for products that this country is not cost competitive or that the US companies have already gone belly up or will not compete with the US giants' operations in other offshore free trade countries. I just hope that the Pakistanis wake up and request the same treatment as other countries such as Israel, Jordan or Egypt .

Once again that you for your posting and hope it gets to the right people.

Luis F. Torres
Former Senior Vice President of Global Sourcing for Sara Lee Branded Apparel (now known as Hanes Brands)