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US To Negotiate Bilateral Agreement With Vietnam

James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

The governments of the United States and Vietnam have announced plans to negotiate a bilateral textile and apparel agreement in a move that US textile interests have been pressing for ever since Vietnam was granted normal trade status last year. However, a group of 30 major retailers have written US Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick urging him not to impose any restrictions of clothing imports from Vietnam at the present time. They said Vietnam is "an extremely important sourcing opportunity in this time of continuing economic uncertainty."

Since Vietnam was granted normal trade status in December 2001, its exports to the US have increased ten-fold, reaching 305-million square meter equivalents. US Department of Commerce data show that Vietnam is a significant shipper in 33 textile and apparel product categories. In spite of that, Vietnam is only the 22nd largest supplier, accounting for 1.6% of clothing imports.

Because Vietnam is not a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), a bilateral agreement could extend beyond the January 2005 target date for the elimination of textile and apparel quotas. However, Vietnam currently is negotiating to become a WTO member.

  February 2003




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