A group of organizations representing almost every facet of the U.S. textile industry has written President Bush urging him to deny requests from importers to “carryforward” increases in textile and apparel quotas from 2005 to the current year.
The organizations, which include the National Cotton Council and the American Cotton Shippers Association, say the requests should be rejected on their face primarily because there will be no quotas to borrow from in 2005.
The practice of “carryforward” is a term contained in most textile trade agreements that allows an importer to borrow a specific amount from future years' quotas for use in the current year, the group says. The transfer is reconciled by reducing the following year's quota by an equal amount.
“As you know, all existing textile and apparel quotas with World Trade Organization countries are due to expire on Jan. 1, 2005,” the group said in a letter to the president.
“Despite this fact, several importing and retailing organizations have petitioned the U.S. government to allow for carryforward increases to textile and apparel quotas this year.
“In essence, although there is no quota to borrow from and no ability to reduce future quotas, importers want to dramatically increase quota amounts during this final year of the textile import restraint program.”
The letter called importer complaints that there will be a quota shortage in 2004 “completely unfounded.”
“First, the existing quota program guarantees all WTO partners annual growth factors on all remaining textile and apparel quotas,” it said.
“These growth factors have provided significant increased access to all foreign suppliers in 2004.
“In addition, we have several preferential trading partners such as Mexico, Canada, Central America, the Caribbean and Sub-Saharan Africa who enjoy quota free access for the vast portion of their textile and apparel exports to the United States. The flood of primarily Asian-produced textile and apparel exports need not be exacerbated by a false carryforward scheme.”
From January through November 2003, the United States ran a $62 billion trade deficit in textile and apparel products, an 11.7 percent increase over the same time period in 2002, leaders of the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition have said.
More than $12 billion of that deficit is with China.
Textile and apparel imports from China under the Multi-Fiber Arrangement have surged 340 percent since Jan. 1, 2002.
Last year, AMTAC and other textile organizations filed requests for the implementation the safeguard provisions of China's WTO accession agreement because of those massive increases in imports of Chinese textile and apparel products.
The administration agreed last October to require China to slow the rate of increase in products in three categories of apparel products.
“Enforcing existing textile quotas is a fundamental point of fairness for the textile industry and its nearly 1 million workers,” the letter to the president said, noting that the industry has lost 323,000 jobs since January 2001.
“Granting unjustified and damaging carryforward will destroy tens of thousands more U.S. textile and apparel jobs.”
The letter comes as some of the organizations signing it are stepping up their efforts to make the decimation of the U.S. manufacturing sector by imports from China and other countries an election issue.
A number of U.S. textile industry CEOs and senior executives and several trade association heads announced a unified policy agenda for 2004 at a press conference in Spartanburg, S.C.
The groups signing the letter to the president include American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, American Textile Manufacturers Institute, National Textile Association, Unite, American Yarn Spinners Association, American Fiber Manufacturers Association, National Cotton Council, American Sheep Industry Association, American Textile Machinery Association, Carpet and Rug Institute, Association of Georgia's Textile, Carpet & Consumer Product Manufacturers, USA Domestic Manufacturers Committee of the Hosiery Association, Industrial Fabrics Association International, North Carolina Manufacturers Association, Textile Distributors Association, South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance, American Flock Association, Manufacture Alabama Textile Council, American Cotton Shippers Association and the National Association for the Sewn Products Industry.