August 15, 2003
Wool Buying Teams Visit U.S. Wool Centers
In an effort to stimulate and increase international wool sales, the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) again this year invited foreign wool buyers to visit major wool centers in the United States.
Participating countries included Uruguay, France, India, Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Italy and Spain also have been invited, but have not yet scheduled. China was scheduled to participate but was forced to cancel because of the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in that country.
It appears that purchasing is slightly slower in 2003 than it was in 2002 due in part to the impact of SARS on the Chinese market and the economic uncertainty regarding the war in Iraq.
This was the second such trip for many of the buyers. Familiarity with the characteristics and quality of U.S. wool and with the industry itself brought them back.
ASI Awarded Part of $110 Million Allocated For MAP
Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman recently announced 2003 allocations of $110 million to 65 U.S. trade organizations to promote U.S. agricultural products overseas under the Market Access Program (MAP). The 2002 Farm Bill provides for significant increases to MAP -- more than doubling funding to $200 million annually by 2006.
The announcement included an allocation of $276,916 for the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI). The MAP program utilizes matching organizational funds as a way to share the costs of overseas marketing and promotional activities.
ASI has allocated the use of these funds toward projects like top-combing and scouring trials, trade show participation, trade missions and reverse trade missions.
ATMI President Resigns
Parks Shackelford has resigned as president of the Washington, D.C.-based American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI) to pursue a position with Florida Crystals Corporation, a sugar producer.
His resignation raises questions about the future of what has been the textile industry?s central trade association for more than 50 years.
Speculation has it that ATMI leadership has three scenarios to review in replacing Shackelford: (1) promote someone on the existing staff to president; (2) hire a new president from outside the industry; and (3) merge ATMI with another textile trade association. There is additional assumption that if ATMI were to merge with another textile trade association, the most likely candidates would be the National Textile Association (NTA) or the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition (AMTAC).
Textile Industry Demands Action on China Trade Policy
Officers from six of the largest trade associations representing the combined U.S. textile and fiber industries met recently in Washington, D.C., where they unanimously approved an aggressive, coordinated lobbying campaign designed to ensure the industry?s survival.
The initial goal of the campaign is to persuade the U.S. government to implement the special textile China safeguard in an early and effective way to moderate the massive surge of Chinese exports.
The groups released a report from the American Textile Manufacturers Institute, available at http://www.atmi.org/ on the internet, showing that unless the government acts, China will gain control of between 65 and 75 percent of the U.S. apparel market when quotas on Chinese imports are removed on Jan. 1, 2005, thus destroying the U.S. textile and apparel industries.
?The U.S. government has stood by while China?s textile and apparel exports to the United States have surged 140 percent, the biggest increase in history,? reported the groups.
During the same one-year period, the U.S. textile industry closed more than 50 plants and more than 40,000 textile workers lost their jobs. In addition, the U.S. government has refused to move against China?s illegal currency regime, which provides its exports with a 40-percent price advantage over U.S manufactured goods.
The associations represented were: American Fiber Manufacturers Association, Inc., American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, American Textile Manufacturers Institute, American Yarn Spinners Association, National Cotton Council of America and National Textile Association.
Fears for Australian Wool Quality
Next season?s wool crop in Australia may be the lowest ever recorded, reports the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
Figures from the Wool Production Forecasting Committee, which represents growers, industry bodies and processors, indicated the clip is likely to fall to 470 million kilos this year -- down from a billion kilos in the 1990?s.
It is believed the drop can largely be attributed to price fluctuations and the drought. Furthermore, it is feared that this drop in overall wool production will, in turn, lead to a decline in the quality of the product.
Dale Park of the Western Australia Farmers Federation says the price fluctuations may cause many sheep producers to shift their attention from wool production to that of meat production, thereby placing more emphasis on meat quality and less on the development of fine wools.
According to American Sheep Industry Association wool consultant Bob Padula, lack of attention to the development of fine wools in Australia could have an impact on U.S. wool markets by causing an increased supply of mid-micron wools typically grown in the U.S.
?Prices are currently holding for these wools because of the reduced supply, but could be affected if the supply goes up,? said Padula.