WASHINGTON – On Thursday, Bladen County Congressman Robert Pittenger (NC-09) wrote United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on behalf of Clarkton’s Gildan Yarns.
The Government of Colombia is proposing trade measures that would effectively block the import of T-shirts and socks made from U.S.-grown cotton and U.S. spun yarns. This follows November 2016 policy changes which arbitrarily increased the cost of imports, created unnecessary red tape, and did not follow international conventions. These policies have already been challenged by Panama through the World Trade Organization.
Colombia claims these policies are aimed at combatting trade-based money laundering, which is commonly used to finance terrorist organizations. However, as vice chairman of the Financial Services Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance, and host of two separate multi-national forums on combatting terrorism financing in South America, Congressman Pittenger explains these specific measures are “not an appropriate or effective tool.”
Congressman Pittenger, Congressman Richard Hudson (NC-08), Congressman Mark Walker (NC-06), Congressman Mark Meadows (NC-11) and Congressman Ted Budd (NC-13) are asking U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer to urge the Government of Colombia to eliminate this unfair trade policy.
“We understand that the Colombian government is now proposing to modify its reference price system in a more draconian fashion that will effectively block the entry of products such as T-shirts and socks made from U.S.-grown cotton and U.S. spun yarns,” the letter stated. “Although the new Decree is largely the same as the November 2016 Decree, it differs in that it substantially raises the arbitrarily determined reference price values based on the weight of the product.
“We appreciate USTR’s attention to this issue in the past and respectfully request that your office renew its engagement with the Colombian government and urge it to eliminate unfair trade measures that disadvantage U.S. companies. Thank you for your consideration and we look forward to working with you on this very important matter.”