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Washington Outlook Archive
James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

Customs Service Seizes Illegal Textile Imports

By James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is making some progress in combating illegal imports of textiles and apparel from China, but it’s a drop in a bucket compared to what US textile manufacturers see as a major problem given growing Chinese imports.

CBP announced that so far in fiscal year 2006, it has seized more than $20 million in illegal apparel imports, mostly from China. This is due in part to the employment of 45 additional personnel to help bolster textile law enforcement efforts. Although the seizures are not all that significant in the overall scheme of things, they are a key element in negotiations of free trade and other bilateral agreements. Insistence on strict customs enforcement has played a role in getting the support of members of Congress and manufacturing and importing interests.

Janet Labuda, director of the customs enforcement and operations division, said that CBP maintains a “robust trade enforcement program,” and its import specialists will continue to review textile shipments in order to enforce compliance with laws and regulations governing imports, including mislabeling and other forms of quota circumvention.

While textile industry trade officials have welcomed the beefed-up enforcement program and hope to see more announcements that could help deter illegal trade, they remain much more concerned about legal imports of Chinese textiles and apparel, which in 2005 amounted to more than $22 billion. 

March 28, 2006