US probes into import surge in Chinese textiles

Associated Press

Washington, April 5:

The United States will bring trade cases against China to determine whether quotas should be re-imposed to protect textile and clothing manufacturers against a surge in Chinese imports, the Bush administration said. The decision represents a major victory for US manufacturers, who had been pressing the administration to bring these cases on its own rather than waiting for the industry to petition the government for relief, a process that could take a longer period of time. “The decision is the first step in a process to determine whether the US market for these products is being disrupted and whether China is playing a role in that disruption,” commerce secretary Carlos Gutierrez said yesterday in a statement announcing the action. The Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements (ITA), an interagency panel that includes officials from Commerce and other government agencies, voted yesterday to launch investigations in three broad clothing categories: cotton knit shirts and blouses; cotton trousers; and underwear made of cotton and man-made fibers. Textile and apparel manufacturers in the US have been pressing for help from the government, contending that a flood of imported products had forced 14 plants in five states to close since the beginning of the year and resulted in the loss of thousands of American jobs.

Industry officials praised the administration for its decision and said it could reduce from four months down to as little as five weeks the time it will take the government to re-impose quotas.