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US Textile Quota Plan Criticized
The Chinese Textile Industry Association yesterday strongly criticized a United States Government plan to formally move towards imposing special quotas on some Chinese textile exports.

The association said it will ask the relevant departments of the Chinese Government to suggest countermeasures to protect Chinese textile manufacturers if the United States starts the process towards implementing restrictions on Chinese exports.

Grant Aldonas, the US undersecretary of commerce, announced the proposed safeguard actions on textile and apparel imports from China at the annual meeting of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute earlier this month.

On September 5 last year, the institute filed a petition to the US Government to request that the United States impose quotas on knitted fabrics, brassieres, gloves, night wear and textile luggage.

An unnamed official from the Chinese industry association said: "We hope the US Government will reconsider whether to start a formal process based on the groundless petition of the ATMI."

In its petition, the US institute claimed that the Chinese exports mentioned damage the US industries involved.

Under the terms of China's accession to the World Trade Organization in December 2001, WTO members may impose specific safeguard measures or quotas on Chinese textile and apparel products if the importing country determines that such shipments from China disrupt or threaten to disrupt the market.

"But, as the United States mostly depends on imports in the five categories and there are few makers of the products in the United States, how can we disrupt these manufacturing industries?" asked the Chinese official.

China's increase in its textile exports to the United States was mostly achieved by their displacing other countries' exports, not by dramatically increasing US imports, he said.

According to the data distributed by the US institute, US imports of textile luggage rose only 12.2 percent year on year in the first six months of last year.

US imports from Thailand dropped by 49.3 percent in the first six months and imports from the Philippines fell 53.1 percent. The current increase in Chinese textile exports to the United States is very normal now that China is a WTO member, the official said.

"This came about through the free choice of US foreign traders, salespeople and consumers, and reflected the improved competitiveness of China's textile industry without quota limitations," he added.

Chinese exports of the five categories to the United States were worth US$7.07 billion last year, up 15.15 percent over 2001. If restrictions are implemented, the operations of Chinese textile manufacturers will suffer and some of these businesses are funded by US entrepreneurs, the official said.

The textile raw materials imported by these investors will also decline, he added.

"So the United States should be more cautious in starting this procedure, which will benefit no side," the official said.

Any limit on trade would mean more than a ban on the five categories of textile product as it would also establish a legal basis for a trade dispute, he said.

For any quota procedure to begin, those requesting it must provide the US Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements specific information in support of their special safeguard claim.

The committee will make a decide within 60 calendar days of the close of the period for comment regarding whether it will request consultations with China.

(China Daily April 24, 2003)

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