U.S. Textile Manufacturers Unravel Over Trade Relations With China

By John S. McClenahen Virtually alone among American manufacturers, textile producers are condemning the U.S. Senate's overwhelming Sept. 19 approval (83 to 15) of permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) with China. "The Senate vote to grant China . . . PNTR status is a vote against the values of the United States, the U.S. textile industry, and its 550,000 employees," declares Roger W. Chastain, president of the Washington-based American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI). He complains that China will get favorable treatment, with the U.S. phasing out import quotas on Chinese textiles and apparel faster than it has for other members of the World Trade Organization (WTO). With PNTR having cleared both houses of Congress and President Clinton ready to sign the legislation, China is expected to gain WTO membership by yearend. In contrast to ATMI's Chastain, Clif Smith, president of Corning Asahi Video Products and chairman of the Arlington, Va.-based Electronic Industries Alliance, hails the Senate vote as "great news for the new economy, which is largely responsible for our nation's recent dramatic economic growth, and for American workers, who can take advantage of the increase in high-wage, high-tech jobs that trade with China will generate." Adds Matthew J. Flanigan, president of the Arlington, Va.-based Telecommunications Industry Assn., "With passage of this legislation, U.S. communications companies are ensured of the ability to compete equally with other global firms in China's domestic communications industry."

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