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Washington Outlook Archive
James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

Textile Union Presses Canada To Take Safeguard Measures

By James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

The head of the textile union UNITE HERE in Canada has urged the Canadian government to implement textile import safeguard measures against China similar to those being sought by the US textile and apparel industries. In an appearance before a House of Commons sub-committee, Alex Dagg, Canadian director and executive vice present of UNITE HERE, said, "For the first time in three decades, all countries will compete in an unregulated environment with China, and every country in the world with an apparel and textile industry is threatened by this development."

Warning that imports from China threaten to impede the orderly development of trade, Dagg said, "The radical nature of this threat can be seen by what happened to imports from China when import quotas were removed on several categories in January 2002. In the three years since quotas were lifted, Chinese imports in baby garments increased by 427 percent, and China's import share went from 14.7 percent to 54.1 percent. In women's and girls' knit shirts and blouses, China's imports increased by 406 percent, and China's share of imports went from 20.7 percent to 61.5 percent.

Dagg said the appreciation of the Canadian dollar against US currency poses a second threat. "Canada's economy is more dependent on exports to the United States than any other country in the world," Dagg said. "Therefore, our monetary authorities should be extremely concerned about the appreciation of the Canadian dollar against the US dollar." Dagg said the currency situation makes it very difficult for Canadian companies to export to the US market and to compete in the Canadian market, and the problem is heightened by competition from the competitive threat from China and other developing Asian countries whose currencies are pegged to the US dollar. She said The Bank of Canada should express its concern to the government about the currency problem and urge the government to keep interest rates low in order to and reverse a recent monetary tightening.

March 2005