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Importers Strike Back On Congressional Trade Proposals

Washinigton Outlook

James A. Morrissey, Washington Outlook

Importers Strike Back On Congressional Trade ProposalsRetailers and other importers of textiles and apparel have launched a counter-offensive on the domestic textile industrys congressional letter writing effort urging the White House to act on some of the industrys key trade issues. Late last month, textile industry lobbying organizations reported that 139 representatives and 26 senators had written letters to the President asking him to crack down on Chinese imports and support the domestic industrys positions with respect to the proposed Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). Among other things, the US industry and its friends in Congress are seeking strict country-of-origin rules and no exceptions granting trade concessions to non-participating countries in CAFTA.The American Apparel and Footwear Association, International Mass Retail Association, American Retail Federation and US Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel have written to the authors of the letters to the White House expressing their disappointment over that decision. While commending the legislators for their concern over the problems of the US textile industry, the importers said: We do not believe your recommendations will improve the fortunes of the US textile industry or help stem the job losses that the industry has been experiencing for years. In fact, they said the congressional proposals would perpetuate failed protectionist policies that have discouraged the US textile industry from becoming competitive.They said policies that erect barriers to trade and insulate companies from competitive disciplines are not the answer and would only lead to continuing job losses and plant closings. They said, instead, the government should be creating financial incentives that would help give textile manufacturers the tools they need in order to compete in world trade circles. The importers last month sent the White House a number of proposals designed to strengthen the domestic textile industry including tax incentives and other financial aid. In their letters to members of Congress, the importers said the time has come for the US to fundamentally rethink its textile and apparel trade policy.By James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent November 2003