WASHINGTON, D.C. – As promised in an April press conference at Chipley’s WestPoint Home facility, U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, II introduced legislation (H.R. 4955) Wednesday to extend for 10 years a free trade provision between the United States and Bahrain that is critical to keeping 260 Northwest Florida manufacturing jobs at WestPoint Home in Chipley. Southerland’s bill would keep in place a Tariff Preference Level (TPL) set to expire in January 2016, ensuring WestPoint Home can continue accessing input materials imported from Bahrain.
“At a time when U.S. textile manufacturers are struggling to survive, WestPoint Home in Chipley, Florida represents one of the few remaining textile facilities in America,” said
Southerland. “Unfortunately, this facility and its 260 highly skilled Washington County workers are at risk due to an expiring trade provision. I am proud to introduce this legislation to ensure these jobs stay right here in Northwest Florida, while also extending much-needed relief to an industry that has moved predominately overseas.”
“As the President and CEO of the last major U.S. based home textiles producer, this is an issue my team has been very focused on,” said Normand Savaria, President and CEO of WestPoint Home. “The bottom line is that the proposed extension provides a mechanism to protect U.S. jobs. We appreciate the recognition and focus of Congressman Steve Southerland on this critical issue.”
“The Northwest Florida Manufacturers Council supports the extension of the TPL program under the UBFTA in order to assist the domestic textile industry and to secure jobs in Florida,” said Greg Britton, President of the Northwest Florida Manufacturers Council.
By creating a level playing field, FTAs help Florida companies. The Mid-East region is an important trading block with Florida. The benefits achieved under the US-Bahrain FTA are important to creating opportunities for manufacturers, small business and our goal to
expand trade relationships to global markets,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.