Congressman Faleomavaega announced today that he supports S.1954, a bill introduced by Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) to keep CNMI’s garment industry competitive in the face of global trade and to address the product quotients in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas.
“The insular possessions, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS), are allowed duty-free treatment for most goods provided that the finished product does not contain more than 70 percent foreign material,” Congressman Faleomavaega said. “For some products which are considered sensitive such as apparel, footwear, tuna, petroleum, watches and watch parts the product must contain no more than 50 percent foreign material.”
“However, US Free Trade Agreements allow up to 70 percent of a finished product to be made with foreign material for these same products meaning that some foreign countries may have an advantage over US territories which are bound by the 50 percent rule. This is particularly problematic for CNMI which is dependent on the garment industry.”
“Several months ago, CNMI officials visited my office and I shared with them that I would support their efforts to protect and strengthen their garment industry, and I thank Senators Akaka and Craig for initiating this legislation. As far as I am aware, our tuna industry is protected and I am pleased that this legislation will also provide American Samoa with the opportunity to diversify its economy if it chooses to consider any of the above mentioned industries as viable options,” the Congressman concluded.