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Government to review industry’s petition

WASHINGTON – The Bush administration will consider the petition for a China safeguard that is being filed by textiles and apparel trade groups later this month. The petition is based on the threat of market disruption, rather than actual market disruption once quotas are lifted on Jan. 1, the U.S. Department of Commerce confirmed yesterday evening.

According to Commerce Department Spokeswoman Mary Brown Brewer, the Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements reviews every petition received very carefully and makes its decisions on a case-by-case basis. She stated, “In reviewing petitions, we consider whether (it) includes the information required in our published procedures and whether it includes sufficient specific factual data necessary to make a determination as to whether imports are disrupting or threatening to disrupt the U.S. market.”

Attorney Diane Weinberg, a partner at Meeks & Sheppard in New York, commented, “It seems unlikely based on the safeguard process that safeguards will ultimately be put in place due to a threat-based petition. However, the timing is designed to compel the Bush administration to accept this petition before the election. It’s definitely a political move.”

Another trade attorney, who requested to remain anonymous added, “The industry has a very uphill battle right now, and I’m sure they are going to fight as hard as they can to win. I believe China will take steps when it is politically expedient for them to do so.”

Weinberg continued, “The procedure is based on market disruption, that is what China and the United States have agreed to and is the way the process works. Petitions that prove actual market disruption have a better chance of resulting in safeguards.” She explained that if CITA decides to accept the petition, it will then solicit comments from the public, namely firms and individuals from the industries involved.

If the petition is filed before Oct. 1, as trade groups are planning, it forces the U.S. government to make its decision regarding the petition rather quickly and implement a potential safeguard by mid January for a virtually seamless transition. Otherwise, minimum trade growth will be held at its current level of 7.5 percent, based on the previous year.

The American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, National Council of Textile Organizations and National Textile Association stated in their press conference yesterday that they will file threat-based safeguard petitions with CITA, an interagency group comprised of representatives from the Departments of Commerce, State, Treasury and Labor, as well as the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

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