Clamping down on counterfeit textiles

A worker walks past weaving machines at a textile factory.

by Jeff Horwich

When I called YarnsAmerica, no one answered.

"Hi, you've reached YarnsAmerica Inc. All lines are presently busy," was the message I got.

Other textile makers say YarnsAmerica doesn't actually make Yarn in America -- it takes yarn made in Pakistan or China and illegally stamps it "Made In The U.S.A." Hence the "Textile Enforcement and Security Act of 2010."

For the remnants of the U.S. textile industry, here's how things are supposed to work: Our machines make the fibers and fabric. We ship it to our free-trade partners in Mexico and Central America. They put it together, send it back, we wear it. Counterfeiters are trying to slip their goods into the mix.

"There are Pakistani yarn mills shipping into the port of Charleston, turning those boats around, sending them to Guatemala, and saying this yarn is now U.S. origin," says Cass Johnson, with the National Council of Textile Organizations.

Johnson says counterfeit fabrics cost a billion dollars every year in lost tariffs. The proposal: Stepped up investigations and a new "Office of Textile and Apparel Enforcement." With manufacturers and the U.S. Treasury feeling a little threadbare, it's likely to get a good look.

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