Global Alliance Presses WTO to Halt China Gains

Organization Outlines Measures to Protect Industry in Post-Quota World

Michele SanFilippo, January 31, 2005

Washington, D.C. Representatives from the Global Alliance for Fair Trade in Textiles (GAFTT) and government officials from 25 countries met on Jan. 26 to discuss a coordinated international response to the worldwide expiration of quotas on textiles and apparel.

Private briefings for government officials took place Jan. 26 and 27.

The group issued the following statement: “By allowing worldwide quotas on textiles and clothing to expire without adequate measures in place to prevent the rapid monopolization of the market by a small number of countries through the use of unfair trade practices, the World Trade Organization has allowed global trade in textiles and clothing to become severely disrupted. Absent of immediate and responsible action by individual governments, up to 30 million jobs around the world will be lost to China and the continued development of a fair and beneficial trading system for this vital sector will be strangled.”

GAFTT currently represents 96 trade groups from 54 countries that exported more than $170 billion in textiles and apparel products in 2003.

The group is calling for the following measures:

  • Governments, especially in the United States, European Union and Canada, to implement the WTO special China textile safeguards to prevent a monopoly of world textiles and apparel trade;

  • The WTO to undertake a review of the impact of quota phase-out and how market-distorting trade practices threaten to monopolize trade in this sector;

  • The WTO to develop new permanent instruments as part of the Doha Round to prevent future monopolization of the sector;

  • Other governments to support WTO paper 496, calling for the WTO to monitor the economic impact of the quota phase-out, and WTO paper 497, submitted by the Republic of Turkey, calling for a permanent, global safeguard mechanism;

  • Governments whose sectors export to the United States, European Union, Canada and others to let these countries know that they support effective use of the China textile safeguard based on threat of market disruption;

  • Governments to move aggressively at the WTO and within their own trade regimes to attack unfair trade practices;

  • The WTO to include safeguards or other specific provisions that would prevent Vietnam from using unfair trade practices to monopolize segments of global trade in textiles and clothing as part of any accession agreement allowing them to join.

GAFTT said that its efforts during the next 12 months would focus on ensuring that safeguard actions are implemented in key markets and that unfair trade practices are attacked. The group will also concentrate on persuading the WTO to introduce new permanent safeguards into the current round of worldwide trade talks.

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