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Textile Associations Urge Bush To Act On Trade Issues

Textile Associations Urge Bush To Act On Trade IssuesOn July 7th, a broad coalition of 14 fiber and textile trade associations wrote President Bush urging him to reaffirm his commitment to a healthy US textile industry by taking "strong, specific actions regarding the enormous threat from China." The associations urged the president to implement a "safeguard mechanism" to limit growth of Chinese imports in 29 recently decontrolled product categories where China has taken more than 40 percent of the US market. The coalition also urged him to reject any tariff preference levels in the Central American Free Trade Agreement, which would enable China to benefit from the agreement. In addition, they urged the administration to reject a proposal for zero tariffs in the trade liberalization talks underway at the World Trade Organization.In part, the letter said: "Chinas enormous growth in 29 recently decontrolled US textile categories suggest the entire US textile and apparel market will be the next victim. If the administration does not act, a new enormous wave of plant closures and worker layoffs is certain to occur in the countrys major textile areas. This will have a profound negative impact on the US struggling manufacturing sector and terminally weaken the domestic textile industry."Allen E. Gant Jr., CEO of Glen Raven Inc., said the letter is part of a "full court press" the industry has underway including grassroots activities, public education, congressional and executive lobbying activities, and efforts to line up support from textile manufacturers in other nations that have a share of the US market.Officials of the association said the US textile and apparel industry has lost 271,100 jobs since January 2001. And a recent report prepared by the American Textile Manufacturers Institute predicted that an additional 630,000 U.S. jobs will be lost, 1,300 plants closed and $42 billion in trade shifted from other countries to China if quotas on textile and apparel products from China are allowed to expire on December 31, 2004.Signing the letter to the president were representatives of the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, American Textile Manufacturers Institute, National Textile Association, American Yarn Spinners Association, American Fiber Manufacturers Association, National Cotton Council, American Textile Machinery Association, American Sheep Industry Association, The Carpet and Rug Institute, the Association of Georgias Textile Carpet and Consumer Product Manufacturers, USA Domestic Manufacturers Committee of the Hosiery Association, Industrial Fabrics Association International, North Carolina Manufacturers Association and the Textile Distributors Association.By James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent June 2003