A senior official from the textile industry said a lobby group will head to the United States next week in an effort to avert a possible clash with the US firms over product safeguards.
According to a deputy director of the China Chamber of Commerce for Textile Imports and Exports, who requested anonymity, the lobby group will include representatives from major textile companies, industrial associations and the government.
The official declined to identify the companies or reveal other details about the trip.
The lobby effort is the latest action from China in the face of possible safeguard demands by some US textile companies.
On July 24 the American Textiles Manufacturers Institute (ATMI) applied to the US government for a renewal of restrictions on Chinese-produced knit fabrics, gloves, brassieres and dressing gowns.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement calls for quotas on textiles and apparel to be eliminated by 2005, but under a special deal that allowed China to enter the WTO in late 2001, safeguards can be imposed on Chinese goods if the "orderly development" of trade in the US textile market is threatened.
The official said the Chinese lobby group will form a close alliance with US importers and retailers to oppose the safeguard because their interests will be damaged if the restriction is imposed. "So the United States should be cautious about starting this procedure, which will benefit no side," the official said.
Besides affecting the interest of US traders and consumers, a safeguard could jeopardize the possibility of a bilateral textile trade between China and the United States, the official hinted.
Customs statistics indicate China imported US$447 million worth of US textiles and apparel last year, up 23.04 percent from the year before. There was another sharp rise this year, with growth hitting 44.5 percent in the first six months.
China also imported 110,000 tons of US cotton during the year's first quarter, 170 times more compared with the same period last year.
"The stagnation of the US textile industry is cyclical in nature and not due to increased imports from China," said Sun Huaibin, an official from the China Textile Industry Association, another major industrial organization.
According to the US government statistics, US production of knit fabrics, gloves, brassieres and dressing gowns has been declining for years.
The largest decline, however, occurred several years before China's WTO accession. In 2001, US production of brassieres was down 14.2 percent and dressing gown production declined by 40.4 percent.
The official said China will not voluntarily impose limits on textile exports as a way to head off possible safeguard measures, but he added he thinks Chinese enterprises could be better off by adapting to the changes themselves, and urged exporters to find more buyers outside the United States.
The US government is expected to make a decision in November.
(China Daily August 9, 2003)