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Parkdale reacts to trade agreement

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Company vows to make sure that a trade agreement between U.S. and Korea doesn't impact its 650 local textile jobs.

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

Officials with domestic textiles company Parkdale Mills say they will work to preserve Twin County jobs, even though the recently ratified free trade agreement is more favorable to overseas competition.
Dan Nation, CEO of Parkdale, joined other employees at a Hillsville factory to make a public appeal to the office of Congressman Morgan Griffith (R-9th District) to oppose the trade agreement with Korea.
Among other concerns, company officials feared that the trade agreement would make it easy for textile firms in China to “trans-ship” goods to the U.S. by sending them through Korea first.
Even the government's estimates say that this trade agreement could hurt domestic textile operations and put as many as 40,000 American jobs at risk.
“We can't have our government working against us, and [the free trade agreement] is our government working against us," Nation told The Gazette.
Parkdale officials announced their opposition to the bill after they asked certain safeguards be added to the legislation.
Textile industry officials had asked that representatives from both countries get together each year to make sure all the rules were being followed correctly, but that idea was refused.
Representatives in Washington, D.C., often say they want to preserve and protect U.S. jobs, but their vote on this matter indicates otherwise, Nation feels.
While the majority of those in congress voted for the trade agreement, Nation noted that Griffith opposed the bill.
The impacts of the trade agreement won’t be good on the domestic industry, but Nation said Parkway will strive against it taking a toll on its 650 employees in the Twin Counties.
The Hillsville and Galax factories have a “world-class workforce” that can compete globally, he stressed. The company wants to project their jobs from being lost to overseas competition.
“We’re going to work extremely hard to keep that from happening,” he said. “Those are our most modern and cost effective facilities, but we have to fight to keep that from happening.”