The U.S. government took a first step toward curbing Chinese textile imports, announcing on April 4 a review to determine whether a recent surge in imports had disrupted the U.S. market. The Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements (CITA), an interagency group chaired by the Department of Commerce, said it was initiating so-called safeguard proceedings on certain textile and apparel imports from China.
"This decision is the first step in a process to determine whether the U.S. market for these products is being disrupted and whether China is playing a role in that disruption," said Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez. "This administration is committed to enforcing our trade agreements and to providing assistance to our domestic textile and apparel industry consistent with our international rights and obligations. Free trade must be fair trade and we will work to ensure that American manufacturers and workers compete on a level playing field."
Washington's action, in response to growing complaints from U.S. textile and apparel makers and labor unions, is allowed under China's WTO Accession Agreement in cases where imports can cause significant market disruption. The review will cover products including cotton knit shirts and blouses, cotton trousers and cotton and man-made fiber underwear.
U.S. officials said preliminary data for the first quarter of 2005 show imports from China in these categories growing by approximately 1,250%, 1,500% and 300%, respectively, from the same quarter of last year. Recent data showing a sharp rise in imports from China prompted protests from U.S. industries. Importers however accused the textile groups of promoting "hysteria" and said freer trade benefits all countries.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2005