October 10, 2008
October 10, 2008 - Nine trade associations, including the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI), issued a press release on Thursday reporting that the Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means, U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel (N.Y.) formally requested the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to initiate an investigation to monitor certain U.S. textile and apparel imports from China beginning in 2009. Rangel's request is designed to help prevent a repeat of the disruptive surge of Chinese textile and apparel exports to the United States following the discontinuation of quotas in January 2005. The committee will use the data to evaluate whether the imposition of safeguards are appropriate once the remaining quotas are removed. The U.S.-China bilateral agreement limiting the growth of certain categories of U.S. textile and apparel imports from China expires at the end of 2008.
"We're pleased that Rangel is taking the prudent step of monitoring imports of Chinese-origin textile products. Given Chinese history of subsidies and other illegal trade practices, it is just commonsense to at least monitor their trade so that the Ways and Means Committee can respond in a timely manner should disruptive activity be found," said Karl Spilhaus, president of the National Textile Association.
In light of the ongoing financial crisis and the recent $700 billion rescue package for Wall Street, American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition Executive Director Auggie Tantillo said, "To boost the economy, it is just as important to help U.S. manufacturing sectors, like textiles, that are under siege from predatory imports from countries like China. Rangel's action to have the ITC monitor imports will help preserve America's 500,000 middle-class jobs in the textile and apparel sector."
ASI's Executive Director Peter Orwick said, "As long-time suppliers to the U.S. textile industry, we have seen before that damage to domestic manufacturers ultimately hurts U.S. wool producers. The monitoring arrangement announced by Rangel is a positive step."
Concerns about market disruption are not unwarranted. The expiration of quotas in World Trade Organization's (WTO) Agreement on Textiles and Clothing in 2005 resulted in a 40 percent price drop on and a nearly 600 percent volume increase of U.S. textile and apparel imports from China, severely disrupting the U.S. market. This led the U.S. government to impose WTO-legal safeguards on numerous categories of U.S. textile and apparel imports from China. In turn, that action encouraged the United States and China to negotiate the bilateral that expires at the end of the year. Within the last few months, China has announced four steps to increase subsidies to its textile sector and indicated additional actions are likely.
Organizations contributing to the communications included the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition; National Council of Textile Organizations; National Textile Association; U.S. Industrial Fabrics Institute; UNITE HERE; National Cotton Council; Georgia Traditional Manufacturers Association; and South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance.