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Washington Outlook Archive

Government And Importers Clash On Safeguard Issues

James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

Battle lines have been drawn on textile importers' efforts to block the US government from using a safeguard mechanism to impose new quotas on Chinese textile and apparel imports. The US Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel (USITA) has asked a federal court in New York to issue an injunction blocking the Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements (CITA) from using a threat of market disruption included in the agreement China signed when it entered the World Trade Organization to impose import limits. USITA says that CITA is wrongly considering petitions filed by domestic manufacturers seeking new quotas on Chinese imports. The importers association contends the petitions are based on anecdotal information and are not based on actual market disruption. They contend importers are being denied due process of law by the procedures being used by CITA. In a court appearance, Justice Department  lawyers representing CITA said there is no constitutional right to import and added that USITA does not have the right to challenge CITA's deliberations, because it has not  exhausted its administrative remedies.  The lawyers said textile manufacturers would be harmed by an injunction and urged the court to dismiss the complaint. Six US textile mills Avondale Mills, Glen Raven Mills, Hamrick and Musgrove Mills, Inman Mills and Mount Vernon Mills -- filed a brief saying they would suffer irreparable harm if they were denied the right to file safeguard petitions. In comments supporting their safeguard petitions, a coalition of textile manufacturers produced an analysis in which it says China is exporting trousers, shirts, underwear and other apparel at 76 percent below  US producer prices and 58 percent below the prices of other exporting nations.  The coalition claims that China already dominates world trade in non-quota covered products with a 55-percent share of trade with the US and the European Union and 88 percent of trade with Australia and Japan, comparable developed countries.

December 2004