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Trade Deficit Spurs Call For Action

James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

As the US Department of Commerce issued trade data covering the first six months of this year, industry lobbyists in Washington called for the US government to take action with respect to trade with China, which has accounted for more than half of this year’s cumulative deficit of $220 billion. They also called on the presidential candidates to take a stand on China trade and tell the American public what they intend to do about it.

Auggie Tantillo, executive director of the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, which includes textile manufacturers, said, “The fact that a single country now accounts for more than half of the US trade deficit in manufactured goods should be sounding alarm bells for the presidential candidates and the Congress.” He charged that China is “brazenly cheating” in its efforts to seize its share of the US market by using currency manipulation, rebates of value-added taxes and other subsidies.

U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab saw the trade data in a different light as she pointed to what she called the “vitality of US exports in the global economy.” She said that goods and services exports during the first seven months of this year were 18.3-percent higher that in the same period of 2007.

“The United States remains a global leader in manufacturing, services and agriculture, and our products and services are extremely competitive in the global marketplace,” Schwab said, adding that “month after month the trade data has confirmed that our exports are thriving in markets around the world.”

Schwab used the trade data to make a renewed appeal for Congress to approve the Colombia, Panama and South Korean Free Trade Agreements that the administration has already negotiated. She said that when these three agreements are approved and implemented, nearly all tariffs and other trade barriers on American goods and services exports will be eliminated in those markets. She also said increased trade with those countries will help grow the US economy and create higher-paying jobs and expanded choices for consumers.

September 16, 2008