UNION COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Vice President Mike Pence visited a Union County textile mill Wednesday afternoon.
Pence arrived in Charlotte, NC around noon Wednesday and attended the Charlotte Republican National Convention Kickoff.
At 2:30 p.m. Pence toured Parkdale Plant #21 in Mineral Springs. Parkdale is the largest yarn manufacturer in the Western Hemisphere, producing more than one billion pounds of spun yarn products a year.
It was founded and is headquartered in Gastonia, NC. It operates 25 plants in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Tennessee and Alabama. Parkdale also has facilities in Mexico, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras and the Dominican Republic.
According to Parkdale, it employs approximately 5,200 people.
CEO of Parkdale Textiles Charles Heilig, CEO and Owner of Parkdale Inc. Andy Warlick, and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross will spoke to Parkdale employees before introducing Pence.
Pence made a push for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement in his remarks.
Pence praised the Trump Administration for improving the manufacturing industry in America by making changes to trade agreements since President Trump took office in 2016.
“We cannot allow industries like yours to suffer at the hands of foreign governments that have targeted you for extinction,” Pence said.
Pence says since the President took office, more than 500,000 manufacturing jobs were created in the U.S. Pence says of those 500,000 jobs, 10,000 of them were created in North Carolina.
He called on Congress to vote in favor of the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement. He says by approving the new deal, the manufacturing and agriculture industries will continue to prosper.
“There are many flaws in the NAFTA agreement,” Quite frankly, as I saw in the state of Indiana, we literally saw some of the largest companies in communities around the state of Indiana shut their doors to go south of the border Mexico. What we’ve done particularly in manufacturing is level the playing field so there is not an incentive any longer for companies that are located in the United States to move south of the border,” Pence said.
Pence says he’s confident the House and the Senate will pass USMCA but he blames Democrats for holding up its ratification, by focusing on other issues like the Mueller Investigation.
“I really hope that Democrats in Congress will turn their attention to the issues that matter most to the American people,” Pence said. “Reckless accusations won’t pave a single new road. And partisan investigations won’t create a single American job. Enough is enough. The American people deserve better. It’s time for Congress to end these partisan games and work with us for the good of every American.”
The agreement was negotiated by the Trump Administration. According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, the agreement would replace and strengthen the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) by enabling food and agriculture to trade more fairly, and to expand exports of American agriculture.
According to the President and CEO of the National Council of Textile Organizations Kimberly Glas, the new agreement would have a positive impact on the textile industry. She tells WBTV it would close loopholes in NAFTA, which would allow American textile companies to capitalize on trade with Mexico and Canada.
For example, under NAFTA, she says many American textile companies produce and export yarn and fabric to Mexico.
Mexico apparel companies will then produce denim jeans from the American fabrics. NAFTA allows Mexico to then import the jeans back into the U.S. tax free.
However, under NAFTA, she says Mexico could go to other countries, like China, for the fabrics that make the pockets or the elastic lining in the jeans.
She says Mexico can sell the jeans back into to the U.S., tax free, even though some of the materials that make up the jeans were purchased outside of the U.S. Under USMCA, Mexico would have to buy all of the fabrics that make up the jeans from the U.S. to continue importing them tax free.
The new agreement still needs to be ratified by Congress before replacing NAFTA.
According to Rob Placek with the Vice President’s Office, Representative Mark Walker, 6th District, and Representative Richard Hudson, 8th District, was at Parkdale to hear Pence’s remarks.