Sens. Collins, King and Reps. Pingree, Poliquin urged the Foreign-Trade Zones Board to approve Flemish Master Weavers’ application for an exemption from a damaging tariff that threatened rug production in the state
Washington, D.C.—Maine’s Congressional Delegation announced today that Sanford-based Flemish Master Weavers prevailed in its application for an exemption from a tariff on yarn it uses to manufacture area rugs in Maine. The ruling by the Foreign-Trade Zones (FTZ) Board helps to level the playing field for Flemish Master Weavers to compete against foreign competitors and places the company in a strong position for continued growth.
U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King and Representatives Chellie Pingree and Bruce Poliquin strongly advocated for Flemish Master Weavers. In November 2016, they sent a letter to the FTZ Board calling for the approval of the company’s application.
“As one of Southern Maine’s largest manufacturing employers, Flemish Master Weavers has a vital role in our state’s economy and provides good jobs for Maine families,” said Senators Collins and King and Representatives Pingree and Poliquin. “We are pleased that, following our advocacy, Flemish Master Weavers will now be exempt from this harmful tariff. The approval of Flemish Master Weavers’ application not only increases the company’s competitiveness, but puts it on track to expand operations.”
Johan Moulin, the President of Flemish Master Weavers of Sanford, Maine, said, “This Board approval of our application to keep rug production in Maine resulted from more than three years of intense work by our Senators and Representatives, the Governor, the City of Waterville, the Central Maine Growth Council, our attorney and consulting firm and many others. Senator Collins and Senator King were incredibly strong advocates for us at the Commerce Department in Washington. Governor LePage and Representatives Pingree and Poliquin helped us in working with the many government agencies and business groups that were instrumental in our ability to remedy, at least in large part, a major impediment to our continued growth. In this time of political division, all of them strove together to achieve a positive result for the people of Maine as well as for Flemish Master Weavers.”
Flemish Master Weavers manufactures machine-made woven area rugs and, as the smallest of only four such producers remaining in the United States, faces competition from foreign manufacturers who increasingly dominate the area rug market here at home. Flemish Master Weavers imports yarn that carries an 8.8 percent U.S. tariff. Despite being designed to protect U.S. businesses, that tariff put Flemish Master Weavers at a competitive disadvantage against the foreign competitors who enjoy duty-free access to the U.S. for the area rugs they manufacture abroad with identical yarn.
Flemish Master Weavers has eleven high-speed looms and fully-automated packing and finishing operations. The company has indicated that it could potentially increase employment as part of a 72,000 square foot building expansion.
The foreign-trade zones program was authorized by Congress in 1934 and is used to support U.S. companies in competition with foreign alternatives by allowing delayed or reduced duty payments on foreign merchandise, as well as other savings. The FTZ Board licenses designated sites as foreign-trade zones.