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Congressmen Urge Action To Control Chinese Imports

James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

Eighteen members of Congress, primarily from textile and apparel manufacturing states, have written to President Bush urging him to direct the Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements (CITA) to impose quotas on Chinese textile and apparel imports that they claim are disrupting US markets.

Under China's World Trade Organization (WTO) accession agreement, the US retained the right to impose import quotas if excessive imports cause market disruption. While noting that the US Department of Commerce recently announced procedures it will use in imposing a "safeguard mechanism" on Chinese textile imports, the members of Congress indicated they area concerned about delays in implementing the safeguards actions, and they urged CITA to move "immediately."

Last August, the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI) urged CITA to reimpose quotas on five product categories where quotas had been removed. In those five categories imports increased by 600 percent after they were decontrolled. The congressmen said in view of the rapidly increasing imports " we need to take immediate legal action to ensure that domestic textile manufacturers do not experience further market disruption."

The congressmen pointed out that in 2002 China surpassed Mexico and Canada to become the largest textile exporter to the US and said, "With Chinese textile imports surging to historic levels, the rules of the trade game with China clearly must change."

At the recent ATMI annual meeting, Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade Grant Aldonas said the administration will not permit the safeguard mechanism to be a drawn out process. He assured attendees that the administration has made a commitment to the textile industry and its workers to enforce trade agreements, and the safeguard action is "one more example that we are keeping that promise."

April 2003