U.S. Textile Industry Seeks White House Relief

By John S. McClenahen The governors of four southern states -- Don Siegelman of Alabama, Roy Barnes of Georgia, Mike Easley of North Carolina, and Jim Hodges of South Carolina -- are asking President George W. Bush to pay attention to the plight of the domestic textile industry much as he has done with domestic steel. Indeed, contend the governors, the economic downturn in textiles "is even more dramatic than that faced by steel." The U.S. International Trade Commission is now investigating a White House-initiated complaint that foreign steel is being "dumped" in the U.S. During the past year, say the governors, the U.S. textile industry has lost 56,000 jobs, about 10% of its workforce. In May alone, 9,000 workers lost their jobs as "more than a dozen" textile mills shut down, they claim. The governors complain that the industry's efforts to modernize have been compromised by "the tidal wave of unfairly low-priced Asian imports that have flooded our country in recent years." More than any other factor, they say, the Asian currencies devalued during the 1997-1998 financial crisis have not recovered their values, resulting in an average 40% decline in the cost of importing textiles from the region. The governors are asking Bush to "use every tool" at his disposal, including use laws designed to counter unfair trade practices and prohibit imports made with child labor.

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