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Still learning

My Take | April 8, 2024 | By: Janet Preus

I’m a researcher at heart. Even in college I would lose myself in the research part of a paper that was due in a couple of days. Authors will tell you that you’re likely to use about a fourth of the research you amass when you write a book. That was certainly the case with my book. There is so much that’s new every day in the world of advanced textiles, so research is part of my daily routine. I guess I landed in the right profession. 

My learning curve on the topic of functional textiles, and especially the advanced technologies more typical of Textile Technology Source, has admittedly been a steep one, but the more I learn, the more I know I have to learn. But I didn’t expect a new feature involving trade classifications to open up a whole new “language,” you might say, in this area. 

Elise Shibles is an expert in international trade law and policy. Her feature, “Changes in trade classifications are underway,” illustrates how alterations in one aspect of textile production—in this case, the use of plastics in textile products—can have a meaningful impact on any enterprise doing business in these products internationally. 

Shibles explains that relatively recently, “a change was made to the interpretation of textile materials considered to be impregnated, coated, covered or laminated with plastics. This can impact rates of duty, not only for the textiles, themselves, but also for goods made out of those textiles …”

Now, I don’t usually zero in on one part of a larger topic (international trade, in this case) to quite this degree, but after reading Shibles explanation, I’m grateful it doesn’t cover more. There’s a lot to know in just one part of one classification change. Understanding any one part of the International Harmonized System (HS), which is used to classify imported and exported goods, will go a long way towards understanding other classification decisions that are bound to happen in the international community represented by the World Customs Organization (WCO). 

In fact, I’m just a little bit incredulous that I haven’t reported on this before. We’ve done some interesting—and, may I say, very helpful—articles on international trade, but in all my years of reporting on textiles, I have never covered this (the HS) or the WCO. So, it’s about time. 

There are so many facets to the international textile business that I’ll never come close to covering them all, but I can help to point you in the right direction. Maybe you’re way ahead of me on this topic. But I’m guessing you’re not way ahead of experts like Shibles, so I hope you’ll take the time to read her article, and it wouldn’t surprise me if you didn’t learn something new, too. 

Janet Preus is senior editor of Textile Technology Source. She can be reached at

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