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Turkish textile group warns WTO on zero-quota assistance

Turkish textile group warns WTO on zero-quota assistance

   Istanbul Tekstil ve Konfeksiyon Ihracatci Birlikleri (ITKIB), a Turkish textile and apparel trade group, has warned World Trade Organization negotiators meeting in Hong Kong to move carefully in giving least-developed countries zero-duty and zero-quota access to nations that already have large competitive textile and apparel sectors.

   'Proposals to grant special access for certain countries that already have large developed textiles sectors could backfire by harming the economies of key developing countries such as Turkey,' said Suleyman Orakcioglu, chairman of ITKIB.

   A quota-free, duty-free initiative for least development countries, 'unless carefully constructed, could cause substantial loss of Turkish jobs and exports to the U.S. and EU markets. This would also represent a back-door gift to China, because China would export subsidized fabrics to countries like Bangladesh, which would use them to displace large amounts of Turkish clothing exports,' Orakcioglu explained.

   The European Union is behind an effort to give duty-free, quota-free access to least-developed countries, including Bangladesh, and also to endorse separate textile talks in the continuing WTO Doha Development Round negotiations.

   Orakcioglu's warning was immediately endorsed by associations representing U.S. domestic textile and apparel manufacturers.

   Unless care is taken, 'this least-developed-countries initiative will reward the winners and bury those already struggling against an onslaught from China,' said Cass Johnson, president of the National Council of Textile Organizations.

   Johnson said African textile and apparel sectors would be particularly vulnerable from a Bangladesh 'textile super-state' which zero duty, zero access would create, according to U.S. domestic manufacturers.

   'Given new, non-reciprocal benefits to Bangladesh, a country that is already a big winner in the post-quota world, will strike many members of Congress as exactly the wrong way to conduct trade policy,' said Auggie Tantillo, executive director of the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, a U.S. lobbying group for domestic textile manufacturers.

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