Several Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) nations support the yarn-forward principle set by the U.S., while others, including Vietnam, disagree.
Prior to the beginning of the 13th TPP round of negotiations last Monday, one of the two relevant parties must make concessions on the issue of the origin of textiles and garments exported to the U.S. so that TPP negotiations can continue to proceed.
This round of talks is taking place in San Diego, California and will conclude tomorrow. According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), the topic of textiles was discussed last Friday.
Before the round began, two senior trade officials of the U.S. came to Vietnam and Malaysia last month to promote TPP negotiations in the field of textile and garment, says World Trade Online, the website of Inside U.S. Trade, which provides exclusive information about the policy-making process of the U.S.
Particularly, Gail Strickler, assistant U.S. trade representative for textiles, discussed with her counterparts in Vietnam and Malaysia over market access, rules of origin and relevant issues on textiles to accelerate TPP negotiations.
Accompanying her was Doug Bell, assistant U.S. trade representative for trade policy and economics. Bell is the coordinator for TPP negotiations on agro-products, industrial goods and textiles.
Data from the early warning website of the Vietnam Competition Authority shows that of the eight countries joining TPP negotiations with the U.S., Vietnam, Peru and Malaysia are the three biggest garment exporters to the U.S, with respective turnover of US$3.78 billion, US$680.6 million and US$318 million in 2011.
Vietnam is currently the second biggest garment exporter to the U.S. after China.
Inside U.S. Trade quoted a private source as saying that TPP negotiations have come to the point where one of the two parties, the U.S. and Vietnam, has to make concessions to let TPP negotiations move on. Still, the website did not provide further details.
The website this May also quoted a private source as saying Vietnamese officials had told U.S. representatives for textiles that Vietnam might consider the yarn-forward principle suggested by the U.S.
However, Vietnam will only do so if the principle is to be applied five years later. This means that during the first five years after TPP comes into force, Vietnam will enjoy preferential tariffs when exporting clothing products made of fabrics imported from non-TPP member countries.
Back then, the U.S. also made a flexible move when saying that the country could make a short and temporary list of fabrics that TPP nations can import from other countries to produce clothes but still enjoy a zero tax rate when exporting to the U.S.
A representative of the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association said he had not heard of such information. At present, the officials in charge of TPP negotiations at the Department for Multilateral Trade Policy under the Ministry of Industry and Trade are attending the 13th round of negotiations in San Diego.
The Saigon Times Daily