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Letter to the editor

In December, the Bush administration presented a proposal to eliminate global tariffs on industrial goods, including textiles and apparel, by 2015. This is a "gift" to China and puts at risk most of the manufacturing jobs in the United States. This "free trade" does not take into consideration "fair trade."

The proposal would undermine the very trading partnerships our government has told us to establish. It would make preferential tariff arrangements meaningless.

It will throw the U.S. market wide open to even greater numbers of imports from Asian countries that have manipulated their currencies to give their own products what amounts to a 30 percent to 40 percent price break, which is anything but "fair trade."

It will hurt commodity-type textile producers of yarns and certain fabrics while making competitive disparities even wider with many developing countries.

Finally, the proposal does nothing to force other nations to swiftly eliminate non-tariff barriers.. Even if it did, the world would be far from a free trade model. All non-tariff barriers must be eliminated quickly, with no exceptions.

Our legislators should adopt a new proposal that all countries should lower their tariffs first to the current level of U.S. textile and apparel tariffs. Also, the U.S. should use a separate "sectoral" approach to negotiate separately on textiles and apparel.

Earlier this year, President Bush said he would work to minimize the impact of future trade deals on the domestic textile industry. A different and better tariff proposal is needed if that commitment is to be followed and "fair trade" achieved.

— James Chesnutt

(The writer is president/ceo of the National Spinning Co.; president of the American Yarn Spinners Association; and chairman of the yarn and thread committee of the American Textile Manufacturers Assn.)

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