Week of April 2, 2001
By Ron Copsey
GREENVILLE, SC - The Winter Conference of the Textured Yarn Association of America (TYAA) featured an overview of trade legislation, plus four in-depth presentations of computer applications for manufacturing environments.
More than 125 members of the group gathered recently at the Hyatt Regency here for an update on textile trade agreements and examples of current software systems available for improving the productivity of yarn manufacturing.
Jim Conner, executive vice president of the American Yarn Spinners Association (AYSA), delivered the keynote address. He reviewed trade laws and past trade legislation and then discussed current opportunities and challenges for the domestic textile industry.
"Even though we have quadrupled productivity and reduced employment by half since the 1970s, the old cliché of being 'cautiously optimistic' has been replaced with 'just trying to survive,' " Conner said. "Survival is the first law of nature and calls for creativity, determination and adaptation to a changed environment and those able to apply the natural law to the global market in which we find ourselves will be survivors."
Conner emphasized that we are clearly in a new era, with the old days gone forever. "Capital and labor are now mobile and the pace of technological development is accelerating and capital or debt management is becoming a chief executive officer's nightmare," he said.
"We have trade laws that deal with the collection of tariffs on imported products and the control of goods crossing our borders. They include anti-dumping and countervailing duty laws, as well as safeguard measures available to U.S. firms to seek relief from unfair or predatory trade practices, or failure of other nations to live up to their negotiated obligations."
In addition to these laws, the U.S. adopts implementing legislation to conform present law to negotiated trade agreements with other countries. Examples cited by Conner include free trade agreements with other countries and implementation of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which came into being January 1, 1995. The WTO replaced the General Agreement on Tariffs & Trade (GATT), a set of rules that governed world trade following World War II.
"Negotiations by definition involve compromise and all too often result in some winners and some losers. On a multinational scale, trade negotiations are influenced by domestic and geo-political considerations, security issues, development considerations for poorer countries and economic considerations," Conner said.
According to Conner, governments seek to maximize benefits from the negotiations by seeking comparative advantage for those industries in which they can maximize their resources of production and earn hard currency or avoid trade deficits. "The U.S. wants to sell capital-intensive products and developing countries want to sell labor-intensive goods to earn the hard currency needed to buy technology," Conner said.
"You know this scenario as well as anyone, because one way or another it has had an impact on your business, your customer's business or your supplier's business."
The Uruguay Round Negotiations under GATT concluded in 1993 and produced an agreement that textile and apparel tariffs would be reduced progressively during a 10-year transition period ending in 2004. "However, tariffs will not be totally eliminated," Conner said.
Conner also pointed out that all textile and apparel quotas will be eliminated as of January 1, 2005. "These products will be subject to the same WTO rules and procedures as other products," Conner said. "This will end 40-plus years of special treatment afforded the textile industry under the MultiFiber Agreement (MFA)," he added.
Week of April 16, 2001
In this week's edition:
NC Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry addresses STA members.
By Devin Steele
CHARLOTTE, NC - Cherie Berry, newly elected commissioner of the North Carolina Department of Labor, said she is confident that the state's employers, even without a government mandate, will do their best to ensure the safety and health of their employees.
That's why, soon after taking office, she rescinding a set of new occupational health rules for North Carolina that her predecessor had adopted to prevent workplace injuries due to improper ergonomics practices. Her action came the same day Congress revoked Clinton administration ergonomics rules on the federal level.
Addressing Southern Textile Association members during their Piedmont Division meeting here last month, Berry remarked that "we all woke up to a bright, sunny day in North Carolina and the rest of the nation" when those regulations were nixed. Her comments drew applause from the pro-business crowd.
"I wanted to make sure that I did everything in my power to make sure that North Carolina didn't have to operate under that nightmare of an ergonomics standard," said Berry, a former small business owner. "I have faith and trust that you will handle those situations, that you will step up and take care of those situations, so that your government doesn't have to force you to do it."
Berry added that she hopes that by doing away with the standard, it won't send a message that the state is through with the ergonomics issue.
Rieter-Suessen deal completed
WINTERTHUR, SWITZERLAND - The Rieter Group, based here, said last week that it will "progressively" acquire the textile machinery activities of Suessen Group.
The Suessen Group, with headquarters in Süssen, Germany, is a market leader in the development of spinning technology for the textile machinery industry and is one of the largest manufacturers of key components for spinning machinery. Suessen employs 1,870 people worldwide, operating production plants in Charlotte, NC, Germany, the Czech Republic, India and Brazil.
Suessen has been owned by the Stahlecker family.
The Rieter Group operates in the textile machinery and automotive supply sectors. The Rieter Textile Systems division manufactures a complete product line for spinning mills producing yarns for further processing from cotton, manmade fibers or blends. The unit also supplies machinery and systems for manufacturing and finishing manmade yarns and for converting plastics into pellets.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Methods of enhancing protective fabrics discovered
RALEIGH, NC - Scientists at North Carolina State University say they have found new ways to make protective fabrics - such as those used in flame-retardant children's clothing or odor-inhibiting socks and shirts - last longer and work better.
Instead of treating the surface of the fabrics with protective polymer coatings that can wear thin and lose effectiveness from use or repeated washing, the N.C. State researchers are imbedding the polymers that make up the fabric itself with various additives. Laboratory tests show that fabrics and films made this way provide greater protection and retain their flame-retardant or antibacterial qualities longer than materials treated with conventional surface coatings.
The new process could be used on fabrics and films in a wide range of products, from children's clothing and odor-inhibiting socks and shirts, to antibacterial medical gowns, dressings and sutures.
The research team is headed by Dr. Alan Tonelli, KoSa professor of polymer science at N.C. State's College of Textiles. The research is sponsored by the U.S. Army and the National Textiles Center, a consortium of textiles colleges funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Thomaston Mills to relocate sales, marketing dept. to GA
THOMASTON, GA - Thomaston Mills announced that it is relocating its sales and marketing department from New York to its headquarters here.
The company's design department will remain in New York.
Several large textile companies have made similar moves in recent years.
"We are certainly aware of the success our competitors have enjoyed by getting everyone geographically aligned," said William Ott, president and CEO, who succeeded Neil Hightower upon his resignation last month. "The ability to have everyone together under one roof will help us communicate more effectively and be far more efficient."
Robert Dale, vice president of sales and marketing, has opted to leave the company, Ott said.
"Bob has served our company extremely well during his tenure and we certainly wish him and his family all of the best," Ott said.