Textile Industry Calls For U.S. Action To Solve 'Crisis'

By John S. McClenahen Claiming they're in a "crisis" as a result of Asian currency devaluations in the late-1990s and the current strong U.S. dollar, American textile makers are asking for the Bush Administration's aid in restoring "competitive balance." Asserts a report from the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI), a Washington-based trade association, "The crisis facing the industry today has reached a point that the U.S. government must move quickly to readjust the competitive situation or risk the loss of one of the largest manufacturing sectors in the country." During the past year, says ATMI, more than 100 U.S. textile plants have been closed and 60,000 textile workers, more than 10% of the industry's nearly half-million-person workforce, have lost their jobs. Among the relief textile companies seek are Administration "self-initiation" of anti-dumping and countervailing-duty suits against alleged unfair foreign trade practices and a crackdown on alleged Asian smuggling along the U.S.-Mexico border and Chinese transshipments through Asia. The U.S. textile industry also wants the Bush Administration to insist that foreign textile and apparel exporting countries begin reducing their tariff- and non-tariff barriers to U.S. textiles and apparel immediately. Meanwhile, the industry wants a commitment from the Bush Administration that it will not reduce U.S. textile and apparel tariffs in the next round of international trade negotiations. And on the financial front, the industry is seeking federal loan guarantees for textile mills that are struggling with low cash flow and, for the longer-term, an expansion of the tax-loss carryback provision for textile mills to 10 years.

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