Asian Development Bank forecasts soft landing for China’s economy
Five U.S. textile, apparel and fiber producing trade associations filed seven safeguard petitions with the Bush administration Wednesday, aimed at limiting U.S. textile and apparel imports from China.
The petitions, filed with the Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements (CITA), cover 14 categories of apparel. CITA now has 15 working days to accept or reject the petitions on their technical merits. If a petition is accepted, a 30-day period follows for public comments. Thereafter, CITA has a 60-day decision-making window.
If CITA approves a safeguard petition, by terms of China's World Trade Organization (WTO) accession agreement, a consultation period then begins between China and the United States. If the parties don't reach agreement, the United States can limit Chinese exports in the safeguard categories to 7.5 percent annual growth.
If adopted in their entirety, the petitions would restore many of the quotas on apparel and textile goods from China that were in place before apparel quotas ended worldwide last Dec. 31.
The affected categories are non-knit shirts (categories 340/640), sweaters (345/645/646), brassieres (349/649), dressing gowns (350/650), knit shirts (638/639), trousers (647/648), and synthetic filament fabrics (620).
Laura E. Jones, executive director of the United States Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel (USA-ITA), said the filing of the petitions 'is no surprise to us. The domestic industry is fixated on China, but that is not their problem.'
Declines in employment in textiles and apparel in 2005 appear comparable to losses the domestic industry has been sustaining monthly since 1994. 'They simply can't justify blaming China,' Jones said. U.S. 'domestics' have 'never been satisfied with what the government has done for them. They always want more,' she added.
'More petitions will be filed in the weeks ahead,' said Auggie Tantillo, executive director of the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition (AMTAC). 'We will keep filing until the United States and China agree to moderate the growth of Chinese imports to a reasonable level.'
'No industry playing by free-market rules can compete with an industry allowed to sell into a free market but not play by free-market rules,' said Cass Johnson, president of the National Council of Textile Organizations.
'Preliminary data shows huge increases in import volume from China. At these rates, there will be nothing left of the fabric producers in the United States or of our garment-making partners in the Caribbean-Central America region,' said Karl Spilhaus, president of the National Textile Association.
'They are citing Chinese export statistics, which have absolutely nothing to do with U.S. prices,' Jones retorted. 'It's d'j' vu all over again. The 'domestics' had a comprehensive agreement with China. It didn't solve their problems then, and it won't now.'
AMTAC, the National Council of Textile Organizations, and the National Textile Association were joined in filing the petitions by the National Cotton Council of America and Unite Here!, a labor union.
CITA is an inter-agency, five-member group comprising representatives from the departments of State, Commerce, Labor, Treasury and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. At least three of the agencies must vote to approve any safeguard petition.