U.S. TEXTILE PRODUCERS RESIST PLAN TO CUT PAKISTANI IMPORT DUTIES
Domestic textile producers told the Bush administration the elimination of duties on Pakistani textile imports would further erode the U.S. textile industry.
“This industry is already reeling from imports from Pakistan and other Asian countries at artificially low prices resulting from devalued currencies across Asia,” said Charles Hayes, president of the American Textile Manufacturing Institute, based in Washington. “Eliminating duties will depress prices still further and dramatically increase imports. Our estimates show the damage to the U.S. textile industry could reach billions of dollars.”
The group said it understood the need to keep Pakistan’s textile and apparel industry alive during the war in Afghanistan. While it competes with the major retail importers, ATMI backs the increase of imports at the current duty rate.
ATMI also said the government could authorize the Overseas Private Investment Corp. to provide government-paid insurance for all textile and apparel shipments coming from Pakistan over the next three years. OPIC was created to provide political risk insurance and loans to help companies do business in developing nations.
“This would guarantee importers and retailers against any disruptions because of political or economic instability,” ATMI said. “This should return the situation to normal and not cause yet more hardship for U.S. textile and apparel workers and companies.”
ATMI added that the U.S. textile industry has lost more than 90,000 jobs in the last 18 months, mostly due to Pakistani and other Asian currency devaluations, which have reduced the cost of Asian fabrics by 20 percent and Asian yarns by 30 percent in the U.S. market.
' “Over 100 U.S. textile mills have been forced to close,” ATMI said. “The U.S. textile industry is currently facing its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.”