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U S And European Textile Industries Urge Government Action

Leaders of the textile and apparel industries of the United States and the European Union (EU) recently announced they have agreed to work with their governments to increase access to markets around the world.Meetings took place recently in Brussels, Belgium with representatives from the American Apparel Manufacturers Association (AAMA), the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI) and the European Textile and Apparel Organization (EURATEX).World trade in textiles and apparel is characterized by unacceptably large imbalances in market access conditions, said Jean de Jaegher, president of EURATEX and chairman of Marzotto SpA. Countries such as India, China, Brazil and Egypt, as well as others, have created tariff and non-tariff barriers that keep their markets essentially inaccessible.Jim Jacobsen, chairman of AAMA said: Before negotiations begin on a new WTO (World Trade Organization) Round, we ask our respective governments to move quickly to get all countries to fully implement their commitments made in the WTO Agreements reached in the Uruguay Round.We also recommend that further liberalization in the proposed new WTO Round of negotiations should result in increased market access so that trade can actually occur among all WTO members on the basis of strict reciprocity.India was cited as an example of a country whose market is essentially closed as it imposes tariff rates of 40 percent or more on nearly all textile and apparel products, as well as five additional import duties and taxes. India also prohibits many imports or refuses to grant licenses for imports.China was also cited as a closed market. Doug Ellis, ATMI president and CEO of Southern Mills Inc., Atlanta, said: If China expects to become a member of the WTO, it must make major reforms in its textile and apparel trade.Real access to Chinas market by all WTO members is absolutely essential. Measures must also remain in place to prevent China from damaging markets with a flood of imports. Simply put, Chinas promises are not enough.The three organizations also agreed to the following: If a new round of trade talks is launched, objectives should focus on obtaining equitable conditions of market access for textiles and apparel. An acceptable outcome to those negotiations must provide for the dismantling of trade barriers so that real trade can occur. The United States and EU should not trade off their textile and apparel tariffs for other negotiating objectives, and they should not make any concessions until other countries have fulfilled their previous commitments. EURATEX, AAMA, and ATMI agreed to cooperatively monitor trading practices throughout the world and work with their respective governments to end practices that violate agreements.

September 1999