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Trade associations battle for future of industry

Leaders from the six largest trade associations representing the U.S. textiles and fiber industry last week unanimously approved a coordinated lobbying campaign designed to ensure what they termed "the industry's survival."

"The U.S. government's lack of follow-through on its commitments concerning textile trade policy has thrown the U.S. textile, fiber and apparel industry and its nearly one million workers into a life or death struggle," said Billy Moore, chairman of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute and executive vp of governmental and investor relations of Unifi.

The lobbying effort is designed to convince the U.S. government that it needs to act swiftly to counter the threat from China. The groups released a report from ATMI claiming that unless the government acts, China will gain control of between 65 percent and 75 percent of the U.S. apparel market once quotas on Chinese imports are removed on January 1, 2005, and "will destroy" the U.S. textiles and apparel industries.

Also attending the industry summit and signing on to the effort were the senior leadership of the National Cotton Council, American Yarn Spinners Association, National Textile Association, American Manufacturing Trade Action Council, and American Fiber Manufacturers Association

At the meeting, the organizations agreed to work together on submitting new safeguard petitions to the government and set an initial goal of persuading officials to implement the special textiles China safeguard to moderate the expected surge of Chinese exports.

The lobbying effort will also concentrate on preventing Chinese goods from taking unfair advantage of regional free-trade agreements now being negotiated, specifically the proposed Central American agreement.

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