A special U.S. trade court has frozen efforts to limit Chinese textile imports as import quotas under global trade rules expired. An injunction issued late Thursday by the U.S. Court of International Trade halted consideration by the U.S. administration of petitions from the U.S. textile industry, which fears the impact of a likely flood of "Made in China" garments.
The ruling leaves the door open to an unchecked increase in Chinese goods with the expiration of quotas on January 1.
The U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel filed the court action in an effort to head off a possible decision by the U.S. government to cap Chinese imports under a provision in China's World Trade Organization accession agreement.
The association, which represents major U.S. retailers, has argued there was no specific threat to U.S. industry and that freer trade would benefit American consumers. Judge Richard Goldberg ruled that the retailer could suffer "irreparable damage" from any import limits that might disrupt the supply chain.
But the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition (AMTAC), which represents U.S. textile makers, said the judge's decision if upheld could end up causing enormous damage to American industry, which would be at a severe disadvantage to low-cost Chinese makers.
"AMTAC believes that the safeguard process was wrongly enjoined and that it is imperative that the U.S. government appeal this flawed decision as soon as possible," the group said in a statement Friday. "AMTAC hopes that the appellate process be expeditious so that the U.S. government's consideration of the threat-based petitions already filed will not be delayed. This ruling could open the door to allowing China to gain a monopoly share of the U.S. textile and apparel market in short order, threatening the economic livelihood of nearly 700,000 US textile and apparel manufacturing workers in the United States."