U.S. and Chinese negotiators failed once again to reach agreement on a long-term resolution of the textile import dispute between the countries. As a result, U.S. manufacturers announced they were filing more safeguard petitions.
The manufacturers, saying China appeared to be hardening its position in the negotiations, also asked the U.S. Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements to impose new import limits in 10 safeguard cases up for decisions in the next few weeks.
“We have not come to an agreement that meets the needs of our domestic manufacturers and retailers,” said David Spooner, the lead U.S. textile negotiator, following two days of talks in Beijing. The meeting was the fourth session of the textile import negotiations held by the two sides since August.
“At this round, China returned to its position of delay and no compromise by insisting on terms for a agreement that were impossible for the U.S. government to accept and that would have been extremely damaging to the U.S. industry and its workers,” said Cass Johnson, president of the National Council of Textile Organizations.
As a result, the U.S. textile industry has filed another safeguard petition and will continue to file petitions as subsidized imports from China cause U.S. textile plants to close and U.S. textile workers to lose their jobs, said Johnson, who was in Beijing to observe the talks.
The latest filing seeks to limit imports of Chinese towels, a category that has increased 224 percent during the first eight months of 2005 compared to the same period in 2004.
The domestic U.S. textile industry is also seeking favorable decisions in 10 other safeguard filings. China's accession agreement to the World Trade Organization allows the United States to limit the annual growth of specific categories to 7.5 percent annually when imports threaten the stability of the U.S. textile sector.
“China's failure to negotiate reasonably ensures that there will be an atmosphere of uncertainty for anyone seeking to import textile goods into the U.S. from China for sometime to come,” said Auggie Tantillo, executive director of the American Manufacturing Trade Action Committee.
“In fact, the only thing that is certain is that the U.S. industry will continue to file and press for adoption of safeguard petitions in order to prevent China from its aggressive disruption of the U.S. market in 2006.”