Court Blocks Import Safeguard Actions
By James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent
In a setback for US textile manufacturers, the Court of International Trade in New York has issued a temporary injunction prohibiting the US government from considering threat-based safeguard petitions to restrict Chinese imports of textiles and apparel. The temporary measure was issued in response to a petition from the US Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel (USA-ITA). The court did not act on the basic question of the legality of threat-based safeguards, but on the procedures the interagency Committee for the Implementation of Textile agreements (CITA) used in taking into consideration petitions from a coalition of textile manufacturers based on the threat of market disruption. USITA Executive Director Laura E. Jones hailed the court's action as an extremely important step toward ensuring the rights of companies to import textiles and apparel. "The court is acknowledging that the government's actions are causing irreparable harm to our members," Jones said.
USA-ITA contends that CITA has unfairly changed the rules by not giving importers adequate opportunities to comment on its procedures for considering threat-based petitions. CITA's actions, the importers say, have forced them to revamp their sourcing plans, in order to ensure an adequate supply of merchandise. US textile manufacturers, on the other hand, say the safeguard process was wrongly enjoined, and they called on government lawyers to appeal the court's decisions as soon as possible. A statement from the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition (AMTAC) said the court's decision is placing hundreds of thousands of US textile jobs at risk by allowing China to gain a monopoly share of textile markets. The AMTAC statement said: "China's ongoing use of unfair trade practices such as currency manipulation, export tax rebates, non-performing loans and other subsidies is aimed at driving all other producers out of business so it can gain a monopoly share of global trade in textile and clothing. "
Addressing the question of CITA's procedures, AMTAC said: "The executive branch's rule
making and interpretation of trade agreements is exempt from the Administrative
Procedures Act when it exercises its foreign affairs exemption as is the case with CITA. "