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Washington Outlook Archive

Textile Associations Plan Trade Summit

James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

Textile industry trade associations in the United States and other countries pressing for an extension of textile and apparel import quotas beyond the planned deadline of 2005, are convening a major summit to plan strategies to gain support from their governments for their efforts. An announcement for the summit, to be held in Brussels, June 15-17, said its purpose is to bring world industry leaders together to plan common action to persuade the World Trade Organization (WTO) to address what they say will be a catastrophic fallout as a result of eliminating import quotas by Jan. 1, 2005. To date, 71 trade associations from 38 countries have signed onto the so-called Istanbul Declaration, which calls for an extension of quotas until Dec. 31, 2007. The declaration, in part, says: Numerous studies have shown if quotas are removed by Jan. 1, 2005, global textile and clothing trade will be monopolized by a few countries such as China. The consequence will be massive job disruption and business bankruptcies in dozens of countries dependent upon textile and clothing exports.The Istanbul Declaration calls on the WTO to act immediately to extend the deadline for implementing the final stages of the phase out. It suggests that during the interim period, WTO members should undertake a full review of global textile and apparel production and export and market circumstances in order to determine an appropriate alternate arrangement. It calls for an emergency session of the WTO no later than July 1 to discuss the proposal.While momentum behind the Istanbul Declaration is gaining strength, no government has as yet voiced its support, and the US government has stated its strong opposition to any extension of quotas. US textile interests have succeeded in getting 80 members of the US House of Representatives and the Senate to agree to write President Bush urging him to change that position.

June 2004