The new Free Trade for America Coalition is comprised of associations, private companies and unions representing cotton and manufactured fibers, steel, paper, glass, copper and brass, cattle, corn, sugar and honey. FREETAC will also campaign against unfair international trade practices.

Its formation was announced at a press conference called by Wilbur L. Ross, chairman of W.L. Ross & Co., LLC, and of International Steel Group, Inc. Ross is in the process of acquiring control of Burlington Industries and Cone Mills, two textile firms that have been forced into Chapter 11 proceedings by unfairly traded imports from China and other Asian countries.

The American Textile Manufacturing Institute’s acting president, Cass Johnson, applauded Ross for organizing the coalition and for bringing “a new message and a new sensibility to the trade arena.

“When the U.S. Trade Representative announces major trade initiatives by inviting Wal-Mart, a company that sources almost three-quarters of its products from China, to the stage, you know American workers are in trouble,” Johnson said.

“America desperately needs a trade policy that works for American workers, rather than sending their jobs overseas, and the American textile industry, one of the largest manufacturing employers in the United States, is proud to be a founding member of this new trade coalition.”

National Cotton Council leaders said the new coalition will pool the resources of some 2,500 corporate constituents and 1 million employees in the common objective of bringing reason and fairness to international trade policy.

“NCC chairmen and senior management have consistently pointed to the need for all segments of the cotton industry to find common ground on trade policy, to broaden the coalition and to aggressively pursue our objectives,” said NCC Chairman Bobby Greene. “We look forward to working with Mr. Ross and the coalition members to spread the word that free trade, when it is also unfair trade, costs our jobs, hurts our communities and drags down our standard of living,” said the ATMI’s Johnson. “And we are going to fight it every step of the way.”

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