China Curtain Safeguard Not Wanted by All

The U.S. Government's decision recently to consider safeguards on curtains and drapery imported from China was seen as a victory by the domestic trade coalition that filed the petition, but was met with far less enthusiasm by some businesses in the home textiles industry.

The government's Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements (CITA) announced on July 15 that it would consider the safeguard action. If CITA does find evidence of market disruption caused by curtain imports, it will request consultations with China. As of the date that consultations are requested, imports will be capped at 7.5 percent above the volume recorded in the previous 12 months.

Jason Carr, cofounder of Gardena, Calif.-based Softline Home Fashions Inc., said he thinks CITA will institute the safeguard on curtains, which “definitely concerns us.”

Softline, an importer and distributor of decorating fabrics, primarily deals with one factory in China for cut-and-sew and another fully vertical factory that produces finished goods.

With no quota costs being tacked onto the price of goods since 2002, said Carr, importers like Softline have been able to pass that savings along to the end customer. “Customers don't want to see prices going up once they have gotten used to these levels,” he said.

However, if quota comes back, prices will go up, said Carr, and that will require adjustments to new programs. “I think customers will understand if we have to raise the non-quota prices we have given them,” he said.

Though Carr said the return of quota will require some adjustments on his part, Arlee Home Fashion's Bud Frankel said the fate of quota will have negligible effects.

“Whether they put restrictions on quantity or pricing, it will not help manufacturing in America,” he said.

If there was a time when the American textiles industry could have been revived, Frankel said, that time is long past. “Pricing is so low that you can't go back and raise your prices if you decided to make some of it in America,” he said.

Frankel would know, as Arlee once operated 12 factories in the United States and now maintains three. “It killed me to close those factories. It's sad, but we go with what is happening,” he said.

Arlee now owns a factory in Shanghai, where it makes finished goods and sources from several others.

The safeguard petition, filed by a coalition of textiles companies and a union representing textiles and apparel workers, was resubmitted two weeks ago after having been rejected due to a technicality.

The next step in the process requires CITA to publish a notice in the Federal Register seeking comments on the proposed safeguard which will last 30 days. A decision will be made within 60 days of the comment period's close.

Home & Textiles Today Staff | News & Commentary

 Home Textiles Today is the market-leading brand covering the home and textiles markets, offering a comprehensive package of print and online products. Home & Textiles Today provides industry news, product trends and introductions, exclusive industry research, consumer data, store operations solutions, trade show news and much more.

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