I was dismayed by the July 28 editorial "In Our Front Yard," which said that the American apparel industry was an obstacle to the bill to enhance the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI).

The American Apparel Manufacturers Association has been the leading advocate of CBI trade enhancement legislation since 1993. Our association represents U.S. companies that produce more than 85 percent of the clothing sold at wholesale for America's $180 billion retail market. For the past six years, our board of directors -- which includes CEOs from large and small U.S. companies -- has made the bill's passage its No. 1 legislative priority.

In support of this goal, numerous members of my staff, myself included, as well as many association member company CEOs, have testified in favor of CBI trade enhancement for many of the reasons cited in The Post's editorial. Perhaps the most compelling of these is that "the expansion of trade that has been taking place between the Caribbean countries and the United States is of mutual benefit. It adds jobs, wealth and, in the region, the stability that supports democratic growth."

The proposal now before Congress offers Americans that rare opportunity of a win-win situation for both the Caribbean basin and for the United States. Trade enhancement will help fuel economic growth throughout the Western Hemisphere. It also will fortify the democratic gains the Caribbean region made following the 1983 passage of President Ronald Reagan's original Caribbean Basin Initiative.

LARRY MARTIN

President

American Apparel Manufacturers Association

Arlington