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Importer Group Wants Duties Nixed

Washington —With most textiles and clothing quota-free, they should be part of a duty-free program for developing country imports, the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel (USA-ITA) told U.S. Government officials last week.

“To help less developed countries compete in a quota-free environment, and move up the development ladder, textiles and apparel must be a part of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP),” testified Robert Zane, chairman, USA-ITA. “With quotas gone, we now have an opportunity to focus on the other area of protectionism: duties. American consumers are paying an extra $27 billion in duties each year while developing countries are finding it difficult to compete in the quota-free environment. The GSP program offers the means to address both of these important issues.”

The GSP program, first established in 1975, lets goods manufactured in less developed countries enter the U.S. market duty-free. Textiles and apparel products have been barred from participating in the program, because they were subject to quotas. The current GSP program is scheduled to expire on Dec. 31, 2006 and will have to be reauthorized by Congress.

Zane testified before the Trade Policy Staff Committee, which is chaired by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

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