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Washington Outlook Archive

As Trade Deficit Soars, Industry Seeks Controls On Imports

By James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

As the US Commerce Department reported that the trade deficit reached a record $61 billion in February, industry lobbyists called for the government to take measures to correct the currency imbalance that gives China and other nations an advantage in pricing their exports to the United States. In the first two months of this year, the trade deficit with China rose by 47 percent over the comparable period last year, and industry officials said at that rate it could grow to $238 billion this year. The US trade deficit in textiles and clothing was $12.9 billion in the first two months of this year, an increase of 16.5 percent. If trade continues at its present rate, the textile and apparel deficit could reach $85 billion this year.

Auggie Tantillo, executive director of the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, said the deficit should send a strong signal to Congress and the White House that the current trade policies are not working, and he called for passage of legislation pending in Congress that would declare currency manipulation illegal and levy tariffs on goods from countries that subsidize their currencies to help offset pricing advantages resulting from currency imbalances.