Progress Made On A Comprehensive Textile Agreement
James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent
US and Chinese textile negotiators appear to be getting closer to a comprehensive textile and
apparel import agreement. As negotiators concluded their fifth round of talks this week, they
reported significant progress, but a number of issues stand in the way of a final agreement. The
sticking points involve the question of which product categories will be covered and for how long,
and what growth levels will be permitted. Textile manufacturers want the agreement to cover those
product that already are involved in safeguard petitions and also other product that could be added
from time to time. At present, they are discussing an agreement that would run through 2008.
Warning that China's latest proposals are "still unacceptable" in terms of breadth of coverage and the length of time products would be covered, Auggie Tantillo, executive director of the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, said the United States will not accept a bad deal, because "no deal is preferable to a bad deal." All in all, some quotas on 23 textile and apparel product categories are due for decision or will expire in the near future. Products awaiting decision are knit fabric, wool trousers, sweaters, dressing gowns, curtains, socks, swimwear, skirts, nightwear, and women's woven shirts. Product where quotas are due to expire at year's end are cotton yarn, cotton trousers, man-made fiber trousers, cotton shirts, man-made fiber shirts, men's woven shirts, underwear, brassieres , synthetic filament fabric, wool suits, man-made fiber coats, polyester filament fabric and cheese cloth. US textile manufacturers have applied for extensions of the quotas on the products where quotas are due to expire.
Karl Spilhaus, president of the National Textile Association, said, "If China is not willing to include all of these products in a comprehensive agreement, we would urge the US government to impose safeguards on any categories where safeguard petitions have been filed but were not covered by the deal."Negotiators have agreed to continue working on an agreement.