The president will tour a textile plant in Gaston County, and then make a speech at Gaston College. The reason for his visit is to build support for a Central American trade agreement.
CAFTA allows for free trade with six Central American countries, but some critics cannot forget about its predecessor, NAFTA, and what they say it did to the state's textile industry. Nearly 5,000 jobs were gone when Pillowtex in Cabarrus County shut down. One hundred jobs vanished when Americal in Henderson closed its doors and another 100 were laid off at Guilford Mills in Fuquay-Varina.
"We have seen those broken promises with NAFTA, and I hate to say this, but we expect there to be broken promises with CAFTA," said Ray Riffe, of the North Carolina AFL-CIO.
Others said CAFTA shows promise for opening new markets to North Carolina's materials.
"This one appears to help far more North Carolina companies than it hurts," said Phil Kirk, of the N.C. Citizens for Business & Industry.
CAFTA has already passed the U.S. Senate. It now goes to the House. Nearly three weeks ago, the president came to Fort Bragg to discuss the war on terrorism.