No China Agreements, More Petitions Submitted

Fourth Round of Textiles Talks With United States Fail

Michele SanFilippo, September 6, 2005

Beijing — China and the United States failed to reach a comprehensive textiles agreement in a fourth round of talks last week. In response, some industry bodies made it known they would file additional safeguard petitions in “sensitive” categories.

A joint statement released by the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, the National Council of Textiles Organizations and the National Textile Association — pro-safeguard groups — stated that “no agreement is better than a bad agreement” on textiles trade with China.

According to the U.S. Association of Textiles and Apparel — an anti-safeguard body — any agreement reached has to be based upon “what is really happening in the market.”

Laura Jones, executive director of USA-ITA commented, “It is naive and short-sighted to press for an agreement that mindlessly continues to tightly rein in products made in China even though it will not bring any production jobs back to the United States and could well cost jobs in the retail sector.”

An agreement has to reflect the interests of the United States as a whole and be fair and transparent, added Jones. “That includes importers and retailers, who account for millions of jobs, and American families, who will bear the brunt of increased prices for essential clothing purchases.”

Meanwhile, Cass Johnson, president of NCTO, expressed disappointment that the Chinese government “is not yet willing to negotiate seriously” to resolve the dispute over textiles.

“Over the past month, the industry has withheld filing additional safeguard cases in the hopes that China would come to the table and negotiate an agreement allowing China to grow its exports into the U.S. market while preventing the wholesale loss of U.S. textiles jobs,” she stated.

According to Auggie Tantillo, executive director of AMTAC, his group intends to be “as aggressive in the future as we have been in the past.”

Year-to-date statistics released by the U.S. government’s Office of Textiles and Apparel show that total U.S. textiles and apparel imports by volume from China are up 47 percent in 2005 compared with 2004. As of June 2005, China holds a 32 percent share of the U.S. textiles and apparel import market (up from 23 percent in June 2004).

The U.S. government approved two more safeguards late last week on synthetic filament fabric and brassieres, but delayed decisions on four other cases covering sweaters, dressing gowns, wool trousers and knit fabric until Oct. 1.

“While we are pleased the U.S. government approved two cases, we are disappointed (it) delayed decisions on some of the others,” said Karl Spilhaus, president of NTA. “The case on wool trousers was filed on Dec. 6, 2004, yet this is the third time that the decision has been delayed. Meanwhile, U.S. imports from China in this critical category are up 198 percent.”

The government has safeguards in place on cotton trousers, man-made fiber trousers, cotton shirts, man-made fiber shirts, men’s and boy’s cotton and man-made fiber woven shirts, cotton and man-made fiber underwear, socks and combed cotton yarn. It has accepted for review six additional safeguard cases covering curtains, socks, woven blouses, skirts, nightwear and swimwear. Decisions on these cases are pending this fall.

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