U.S. National Council of Textile Organizations opposes free trade negotiations with Vietnam

March 05, 2009. At a hearing on proposed free trade negotiations with countries in the Trans-Pacific Partnership area (TPP), the U.S. National Council of Textile Organizations opposed the proposed inclusion of Vietnam in the negotiations and said the textile industry would oppose any agreement that included Vietnam. NCTO urged the Obama Administration to overturn the Bush Administrative initiative to include Vietnam.

Cass Johnson, President of NCTO, stated: “By proposing to include Vietnam, a non-market economy, in free trade negotiations, USTR is turning long standing trade policy on its head. Non-market economies such as Vietnam have long been recognized as posing unique threats to U.S. manufacturers and their workers.

“This is because the government controls or strongly influences the basic organs of the economy and can redirect resources to undercut U.S. companies and drive them out of business. On top of that, Vietnam remains a communist country without the right of assembly, free press or a democratic vote. Why are we now offering Vietnam a free trade agreement, the crown jewel of trade liberalization?”

Johnson said that the textile industry was surprised that the U.S. government would even consider granting Vietnam free trade status. He said, “The government of Vietnam has a non convertible currency, controls the ownership of land, owns all the major banks, sets wage rates and directly subsidizes large portions of its economy, including the textile and apparel sector, which is still guided by Five Year Plans.

“Now the U.S. government is proposing to fling open the front door and let Vietnam do its worst. This is not only bad trade policy, but it is bad economic policy and it demonstrates why support for free trade agreements and further trade liberalization has hit historic lows among the American public.”

Read more …

NCTO Testimony before U.S. Trade Representative on Proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement with Singapore, Chile, New Zealand, Brunei Darussalam, Australia, Peru, and Vietnam, Feb 25, 2009

NCTO Opposes Vietnam Inclusion in Free Trade Talks: FTA Negotiations Wrong for Non-Market Economies Which Subsidize Exports, NCTO Press Release, Mar 4, 2009