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Textile Interests Set Agenda For Trade Talks

A coalition of 13 fiber and textile trade associations has written U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick outlining their objectives and recommendations for consideration in connection with the on-going World Trade Organization (WTO) trade negotiations. The associations are members of the Textile Alliance that includes cotton and man-made-fiber interests, textile manufacturers, machinery manufacturers and textile distributors. They told Zoellick their recommendations are "critically important to the future health of our respective industry sectors" and urged government officials to give these recommendations their "highest priority" in the negotiations.The basic alliance recommendations were reduction and binding of textile and apparel tariffs by foreign countries to the levels of tariffs in the U.S.; elimination of all non-tariff barriers; and installation of a mechanism to permit retaliation against a country that establishes non-tariff barriers in the future, except as permitted under the WTO safeguard and unfair trade provisions.The alliance said any future trade agreements must be "balanced and fair and completely reciprocal," and that agreements must include rules of origin and customs enforcement that will prevent transshipments of goods from countries that are not participants in an agreement.The associations also emphasized that rules of origin in future agreements must be based on the NAFTA yarn-forward rule of origin that requires use of yarn and fabric "wholly formed" in participating nations. They said that benefits should be withdrawn from any nation that does not conform to these rules. The letter tracks what the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI) has been saying for some time, but the letter demonstrates a unified policy from a broad spectrum of textile interests.Members of the American Textile Alliance are: American Cotton Shippers Association, American Fiber Manufacturers Association, American Textile Machinery Association, American Textile Manufacturers Institute, Georgia Textile Manufacturers Association, National Cotton Council of America, National Textile Association, North Carolina Manufacturers Association, South Carolina Manufacturers Association, Textile Distributors Association and the Carpet and Rug Institute. October 2002