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ATMI Promise Of China Access Could Prove Empty

"The recent trade agreement signed by U.S. and Chinese negotiators prompted quick and adamant reaction from U.S. textile leaders.Doug Ellis, president, American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI) said: While we hope otherwise, statements by the U.S. negotiators in Beijing today describing Chinas promise of access to its own market could also prove to be empty. Can a trade agreement change Chinas centuries-old mercantilistic behaviorThe agreement, which would remove trade barriers and possibly clear Chinas entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO), was signed on November 15 after intense negotiations.Ellis said: We are very disappointed that the U.S. trade negotiators on Chinas accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) failed to get agreement whereby the United States would continue its quotas on Chinese textile and apparel imports for 10 years. Every other WTO member has faced a 10-year phase-out period. Agreeing to Chinas demands for a five-year phase-out will cost the United States some 150,000 fiber, textile and apparel jobs and lost U.S. production in the billions of dollars.China is the one country that is least deserving of the preferential quota treatment that the agreement provides. China illegally transships at least $5 billion of textiles and apparel annually, according to U.S. Customs. Yet, in a rush to conclude a deal, the United States has rewarded Chinas behavior with access to the U.S. market on better terms than WTO members received in 1995. We understand that the agreement does provide a four-year special safeguard mechanism through 2008 for textiles and apparel. Until we know more details, we cannot evaluate its effectiveness.Our industry will try to sell textile products to China as will other industries. The test will be whether real, meaningful trade enters China on normal, commercial terms or whether China continues its state trading, non-market system and is permitted to make a mockery of its WTO membership.We urge all members of Congress to examine the agreement closely before they vote to give China permanent normal trade relations' status. We urge Congress to ask compelling questions of the U.S. negotiators and to assess carefully China's obligations and what can be done if China does not honor them."The U.S. textile industry and its workers are paying the price for what the U.S. negotiators described yesterday in Bejiing as a 'strong, commercially viable WTO agreement for China.'"China needs to ask if it is also a strong commercially viable agreement for the United States."

December 1999




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