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Washington Outlook Archive

Government Embargoes Apparel Overshipments

James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

In a move that has irritated US importers of apparel to no end, the interagency Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements (CITA) has embargoed the entrance of considerable apparel that has been shipped to the US in excess of 2004 import quotas. Although virtually all import quotas on textiles and apparel are due to expire January 1, the products in question are being embargoed under quotas that are in effect thorough the end of this year. Although retailers and other importers of textiles and apparel have hailed the elimination of quotas, they got caught short when CITA announced there could be no more "carry forward" for imports. Under that procedure, when the quota program was in effect, countries overshipping their quotas could borrow from the next years quotas. Since there will be no "next year" after 2004, there was nothing from which to borrow. In a letter to the Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, CITA laid out procedures that will permit the eventual entry of the goods. The memo states: "For all shipments exported in 2004 that exceed the applicable 2004 quotas limit from WTO members, you are directed to deny entry until February 1, 2.005, subject to the following procedure. From February I through February 28, 2005, you are directed to permit entry to goods in an amount equal to 5 percent of the applicable 2004 quota limit." The same 5 percent entry will be permitted each subsequent month until the excess shipments are entered. In addition, CITA laid out some special procedures for three categories of Chinese apparel that are under quota as a result of safeguard actions taken last year. They are bras, dressing gowns and knit fabrics. They will be permitted to enter under a phased-in 5 percent per month until all of the safeguard goods have entered.

Importers reacted sharply to the announcement saying the embargoes will have serious negative consequences ." Auggie Tantillo, Washington coordinator for the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, said in effect, that China and the importers are getting what they deserve, pointing out that China has abused the system for years and the embargoes are the least the US government can do.

December 2004




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