Cotton, Textile Groups Urge Correction of Strong Dollar

NCC, along with manufacturer and shipper organizations, sent a letter to President Bush asking the Administration to take immediate steps to bring the dollar back down to normal, historic levels as a way to help the ailing U.S. textiles sector.

May 3, 2002
Contact: Marjory Walker
(901) 274-9030

MEMPHIS – Citing the strong dollar’s devastating impact on U.S. textiles, the National Cotton Council is asking the Administration to take immediate steps to bring the dollar back down to normal, historic levels.

A letter to President Bush from the NCC, the American Cotton Shippers Association, the American Textile Manufacturers Institute and six other manufacturing organizations described the strong dollar’s impact on U.S. textiles.

"As you know, the U.S. textile industry is suffering its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression," the letter stated. "Since the dollar began to surge in value in 1997, over 175,000 textile workers have lost their jobs and over 215 textile plants in the United States have closed. We firmly believe that for the textile crisis to end and for the industry to return to health, the United States government must act to return the dollar to its normal, historic range."

The letter pointed to the Asian currency devaluation in 1997-98 and the "strong U.S. dollar" policy instituted at that time as the root causes for the devastation. As of 2001, the dollar had increased in value by an average of 40 percent against the leading Asian textile exporting countries. Prior to the dollar’s surge, the U.S. textile industry was "enjoying some of its best years in history and recording new highs for shipments, profits and exports."

Since 1997-98, the dollar’s strength has allowed Asian exporters to cut their prices by an average of 23 percent and caused Asian textile and apparel exports to the U.S. to increase by an astonishing 6 billion square meters - a 65 percent increase. As a result, U.S. textile profits have virtually disappeared, shipments have declined by 25 percent or $12 billion, exports have fallen by $2 billion and "a swath of misery has spread across the Southeast," particularly in small towns that have depended for generations on domestic textile manufacturing.

The letter, which noted the negative impact on cotton and wool growers, said that the National Association of Manufacturers estimates that half a million manufacturing jobs have been lost in the last 18 months just from lost export orders. That figure does not include hundreds of thousands of jobs lost because of a surge in artificially low-priced imports.

Other letter co-signers included the Georgia Textile Manufacturers Association, The Association of Georgia’s Textile, Carpet and Consumer Products Manufacturers, the Alabama Textile Manufacturers, the North Carolina Manufacturers Association and the South Carolina Manufacturers Association.