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Retail association dismayed by safeguard petitions

ARLINGTON , Va. — The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) is not happy about the filing of threat-based textiles safeguard petitions against China .

"We remain very concerned that the domestic industry is filing these petitions without the Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements (CITA) having released guidance on what procedures or criteria will be used to determine whether or not these petitions will be accepted," stated Jonathan Gold, RILA's vice president of international trade policy.

"RILA still questions whether or not these petitions can actually be filed on products that remain under quota through 2004," added Gold. "Any claim of threat is purely based on speculation and not the reality of the market. Retailers will not put all of their eggs in the China basket on Jan. 1. RILA's members will still employ a diversified sourcing strategy around the globe once quotas end."

A coalition of six domestic apparel, textiles and fiber producing trade associations along with one labor union filed an initial petition on cotton trousers (Category 347/348) on Oct. 8. The coalition is expected to file an additional nine petitions in the coming days covering an additional 13 categories, including cotton sheets.

"If you look at the trade statistics for Category 347/348, the total imports from China decreased in 2003 by more than 37 percent, while the cost actually increased by 15 percent. Based on the requirements that CITA itself laid out previously, this petition should not be accepted," claimed Gold.

"While CITA has said the domestic industry can file threat-based cases," stated Gold, "we still encourage it to withhold any action until clear and transparent guidelines and procedures are published on how these petitions will be decided."

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