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Countdown to quota elimination

Hanging like a cloud over 2005 — and raising the hackles of big textiles producers — is the scheduled Jan. 1 elimination of quotas between the United States and low-cost exporting nations, with China looming as the 1,000-pound gorilla.

What does that date mean for an industry already swamped by a rising tide of textile and apparel imports? And will it even happen on schedule? Will an administration facing re-election throw up a roadblock, postponing the inevitable?

A panel of textiles executives thrashed out the issue at a seminar sponsored by Financo Inc. — a strategic consulting company focusing on mergers, divestitures and financial issues in the retail and textiles industry — at its annual Chief Executives dinner. The event is held here each January and pegged to the National Retail Federation convention.

The participants included CEOs of Li & Fung Limited, VF Corporation, Liz Claiborne and Kellwood Company, along with the global director of Deloitte Research.

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