By Arthur Friedman

Executives attending the Textile & Apparel Importer Trade & Transportation Conference at the Chelsea Piers also heard about the volatility of cargo shipping β€” oversupply of ships, roller-coaster freight rates, labor woes at major ports β€” the down side of existing free-trade agreements and the complexities of negotiating new pacts such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Francisco Sanchez, undersecretary of international trade at the Commerce Department, in a keynote speech and an interview on the sidelines of the conference, said the industry is a priority sector for him.

Appointed in 2010, Sanchez said he’s spent a lot of time learning about the industry β€” the conference hosted by the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles & Apparel and the American Import Shippers Association marking his 12th such event.

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