Clashing textile, apparel advice for Obama
Apparel importers are urging the Obama administration to eliminate apparel duties.
Calling the end of quotas on textile and apparel imports a “transformative moment in U.S. trade policy,” Laura E. Jones, executive director of the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel, said her group wants the next administration to drop import duties on clothing and “reform a hodgepodge of origin rules and special exceptions.
“Now that the quotas are extinct, it’s time to eliminate the high tariffs on clothing that hit hardest on America’s poorest families,” she said.
“Last week, 22 quotas that had limited imports of Chinese-made textile and apparel products since 1980 expired. Hundreds of quotas on other textile and apparel imports into the U.S. ended four years ago,” the group noted. “Given the state of the economy and consumer confidence, as well as quota levels that were no longer restrictive, the end of the last few quotas on China is not expected to result in an increase in apparel imports in 2009.”
USA-ITA’s position is in stark contrast to that of groups representing U.S. textile manufacturers.
Last month, Cass Johnson, president of the National Council of Textile Organizations, said, “This is a dangerous moment for our industry and our workers. Our country is in the midst of deep economic downturn, the textile sector is already suffering, and 66,000 textile and apparel workers have lost their jobs during the first 11 months of the year. Now, the Chinese government is pouring money into its textile sector in a bid to grab market share. The new administration needs to send a message that U.S. textile jobs are not available for China’s picking.”
NCTO said that while China’s share of the U.S. apparel market fell early in 2007, in 2008 it has climbed through the rest of the year as the Chinese government increased textile subsidies on three different occasions and began devaluing the yuan.
NCTO hailed a filing last month by the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office against China before the World Trade Organization by its “Famous Brands” export subsidy program was based on a complaint it filed.
“The USTR action confirms yet again that China’s export machine is built in large part on unfair government subsidies, many of which are illegal,” Johnson said. ' Chris Dupin