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Imports From China And Vietnam Show Sharp Gains

Washinigton Outlook

James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

Imports From China and Vietnam Show Sharp GainsChina continued its relentless growth of textile and apparel exports to the US during the first half of this year, and Vietnam is moving quickly into a number of markets. US Department of Commerce data show Chinese imports by the US up by 90 percent compared with the same period of 2003. Vietnam imports, from a much smaller base, were up 418 percent. Imports from Asia had a depressing effect on textile trade with Mexico, which experienced a 10-percent decline. This presents a particular problem for US textile manufacturers, since Mexican apparel imports, under the North American Free Trade Agreement, must be made of yarn and fabric made in the US, Canada or Mexico.Much of Chinas import growth occurred in the recently decontrolled product categories where US textile manufacturers are urging the government to reimpose import quotas. Imports of bras from China rose 161 percent, dressing gowns were up 267 percent, and knit fabric rose 166 percent. The Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements (CITA) is seeking public comment on whether it should invoke the so-called safeguard mechanism in the US-China bilateral trade agreement, and negotiate new quotas on those products..Earlier this year, the US negotiated a bilateral trade agreement with Vietnam, but quotas in some of the categories have already been or are about to be filled. In view of this, CITA has granted Vietnam increased quotas for the over-shipped categories by permitting it to borrow from product categories where quotas are not likely to be filled. It also can borrow from next years quotas. The use of these swings and carry forward is authorized in the US-Vietnam bilateral trade agreement.In the past six months, Chinas share of the US import market has grown to 16.3 percent, surpassing Mexico as the largest exporter to the US Overall, textile and apparel imports during the first half of this year increased 7 percent over last year with textile imports up 5.3 percent and apparel up 11.2 percent.By James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent September 2003




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