National Council of Textile Organizations (NCTO) President and CEO Kim Glas issued a statement urging the government to institute Buy American policy changes to help bolster US manufacturers producing personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline workers battling the Covid-19 pandemic.
“If the government is sincere about reconstituting a US production chain for medical personal protective equipment (PPE) to resolve the drastic shortages we are experiencing during the current pandemic, it is going to have to make key policy changes to help incentivise domestic production.
A strong Buy American mandate for these vital healthcare materials needs to be instituted for all federal agencies, coupled with other reasonable production incentives, to help ensure a strong US manufacturing base for these essential products,” he said.
The US Department of Defense operates under a fibre-to-finished product Buy American rule for military textiles. This rule ensures that the vital textile materials US warfighters depend upon, come from a secure domestic production chain that cannot be severed during a military emergency by offshore entities.
There is a bipartisan call for action as members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have begun to acknowledge the need for these types of reasonable and essential policy changes. Expanding domestic purchase requirements through Executive Order and other legislative initiatives will ensure that PPE production through US supply chains that have been created overnight don’t evaporate as soon as this crisis is over.
“In the midst of the crisis, our failure to confront this challenge will allow for a repeat of the sins of the past that allowed sourcing agents to offshore the entire production of medical PPE in search of lucrative profits.
While chasing the lowest cost import may have seemed cost-effective at the time, these past few months have demonstrated that we paid a deadly price through this approach by jeopardising the very lives of frontline medical personnel that are fighting the pandemic,” Glas stated.
He called upon the government to act swiftly. “This is a national security issue. It’s also a vital healthcare issue and it is decision time for US policymakers. If our country is to be prepared for future deadly pandemics such as the one it is now facing, reasonable policy changes need to be implemented to ensure that we strengthen our domestic supply chain to address America’s security, safety and healthcare requirements.”
NCTO is a Washington, DC-based trade association that represents domestic textile manufacturers, including artificial and synthetic filament and fibre producers. US employment in the textile supply chain was 585,240 in 2019. The value of shipments for US textiles and apparel was US$ 75.8 billion in 2019. US exports of fibre, textiles and apparel were US$ 29.1 billion in 2019. Capital expenditures for textile and apparel production totaled US$ 2.5 billion in 2018, the last year for which data is available.