According to the U.S. Office of Textiles and Apparel, in January 2005, the first month following the expiration of quotas on textile and apparel products, imports from China in major apparel products doubled compared to January 2004.
In the month of January, China took a 35-percent share of the U.S. import market for textiles and a 22-percent share for apparel. Total Chinese share of the U.S. import market was 29 percent, the highest share of any single country in history.
January import numbers contained a significant amount of goods shipped from China while it was still under quota. These figures are considered only a sign of what is to come. Chinese Customs figures show a 546-percent increase in exports of goods shipped from China in January.
In addition, Chinese prices in January dropped an average of 22 percent compared to prices one year ago, with the average Chinese price in January 2005 of $1.25 per square meter compared to $1.61 per square meter in January 2004.
In February, China?s officials stated that apparel exports to the United States were up 147 percent to $650 million.
All the while, textile and apparel job losses in the United States have sharply accelerated. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 12,000 jobs were lost in the combined sector in January. At least seven textile plants have already closed in the United States this year.
This rapid and unprecedented growth into the U.S. market by one supplier has prompted U.S. textile, fiber and labor leaders to call on the Administration to self-initiate the World Trade Organization (WTO) sanctioned China textile safeguard immediately. This safeguard would allow China to continue to expand its exports to the United States, but would limit growth to 7.5 percent above their shipments in the first 12 months of the most recent 14 months.
Given these facts, the Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements (CITA) announced on April 4, its decision to initiate safeguard proceedings to determine whether imports of certain Chinese origin textile and apparel products are contributing to the disruption of the U.S. market.
?American textile manufacturers are pleased that our government has finally begun to recognize the crisis in the textile industry,? says Karl Spilhaus, president of the National Textile Association. ?Self-initiation, which can be a significantly streamlined procedure, is very welcomed by American textile manufacturers who are struggling against a flood of imports from China.?
The products subject to review will be cotton knit shirts and blouses, cotton trousers and cotton and man-made fiber underwear.
CITA will publish a Federal Register notice that will launch a 30-day period during which interested parties and stakeholders may submit comments on each product subject to safeguard proceedings. If the committee makes an affirmative determination that imports of Chinese origin textile and apparel products are contributing to the disruption of the U.S. market, the Committee will request consultations with China with a view of easing or avoiding such market disruption. As of the date such consultations are requested by the United States, a quota will be put in place to limit U.S. imports of Chinese products.