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Government to consider more safeguard petitions

WASHINGTON — The U.S. government accepted five China safeguard petitions for consideration late yesterday that had been filed on manmade fiber trousers and shirts, cotton shirts, non-knit shirts and underwear by a coalition of textiles and apparel manufacturers and the UNITE HERE! labor union in mid-October.

Other petitions, including those covering cotton sheets, are currently pending consideration by the Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements, an interagency U.S. government group.

This triggers a 30-day public comment period followed by a 60-day decision making window.

"The six petitions now accepted are where the rubber meets the road in determining whether the textile industries in the United States, Western Hemisphere and rest of the developing world will be given a fair chance to compete once quotas are removed," said Cass Johnson, president of the National Council of Textile Organizations. "As the quota phase-out ticks down, these petitions are the only things that can now stop a Chinese takeover of the U.S. market. Hundreds of thousands of jobs are at stake as well as the principle of fair play in textile trade. That's why we need the U.S. government to approve these petitions early in 2005," he added.

Karl Spilhaus, president of the National Textile Association, stated, "We are working very hard on the other petitions that we announced would be filed on wool trousers, cotton sheets, and other synthetic filament fabrics. The same stands true with the reapplications for the petitions on knit fabric, brassieres and dressing gowns. We anticipate filing some of these petitions in the next few days."

The United States imported nearly $24 billion in products covered by the five petitions under consideration in 2003. Of that total, $940 million were imports from China .

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