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Commerce Department Reports On Textile Assistance Efforts

The U.S. Department of Commerce has issued its first progress report on the Bush administrations Textile Working Group program to help the textile industry cope with some of its international trade and economic problems.<BR><BR>Referring to a commitment made to members of Congress in December, Commerce Secretary Donald Evans said, "This administration made a promise to the U.S. textile industry and its workers. We take that commitment seriously, and this report highlights our accomplishments."<BR><BR>Throughout the 20-page report, the Commerce Department emphasized that the Bush administrations aim is to open foreign markets to U.S. textile and apparel products and to make reciprocal market access a priority. Since that is likely to meet resistance in many of the developing countries, it is apparent that a major job lies ahead.<BR><BR>Van May, chairman of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI), commended the government for its efforts to date&

The U.S. Department of Commerce has issued its first progress report on the Bush administrations Textile Working Group program to help the textile industry cope with some of its international trade and economic problems.Referring to a commitment made to members of Congress in December, Commerce Secretary Donald Evans said, "This administration made a promise to the U.S. textile industry and its workers. We take that commitment seriously, and this report highlights our accomplishments."Throughout the 20-page report, the Commerce Department emphasized that the Bush administrations aim is to open foreign markets to U.S. textile and apparel products and to make reciprocal market access a priority. Since that is likely to meet resistance in many of the developing countries, it is apparent that a major job lies ahead.Van May, chairman of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI), commended the government for its efforts to date, but said that much more needs to be done as the domestic industry continues to close plants and lose jobs. He said little progress has been made toward opening overseas markets to textile and apparel exports, and he urged the government to step up its efforts to wipe out overseas trade barriers.Since December, the Commerce Department has been coordinating the work of inter-agency textile working groups that are addressing trade agreements, market access, illegal transshipments, export expansion, trade remedy laws and trade adjustment assistance for workers.The report cited what Commerce Department officials called "high priority measures" in a number of areas, including: Trade agreements The administration has successfully resisted demands in the World Trade Organization (WT) by some countries to accelerate the removal of textile import quotas, now scheduled to be completed by 2005; Market Access Work is currently underway on compliance issues involving 25 countries with "special attention" being paid to India, Egypt, Pakistan, China, Mexico and Brazil. The report cited one specific case where Pakistan reduced its duties on textiles by 55%. Transshipments The U.S. Customs Service has stopped $300 million in illegal trade involving 162 factories, some of which were closed down following Customs efforts. From October 1, 2001 to May 31, 2002, Customs has seized that $14.4 million worth of textiles that were either transshipped or violated intellectual property; Export Expansion The Commerce Department has increased its participation in international trade exhibitions, adding 11 shows to its existing calendar; Trade Remedy Laws The U.S. government has maintained and will continue to maintain its strong opposition to any weakening of anti-dumping and countervailing duty rules; Trade Adjustment Assistance The administration is working with Congress to ensure that workers who lose their jobs as a result of imports receive counseling, training and placement services leading to a new job. Diversification In a fresh approach to the import problem, the State Department is working with countries that are heavily dependent on manufacturing and exporting textiles to diversify into other industrial sectors.James C. Leonard, deputy assistant secretary of commerce for textiles, apparel and consumer goods industries, and a 28-year-veteran of textile trade wars, told Textile World and other media representatives that this is "the first time I have seen such strong evidence that the government is being responsive to the needs of the textile industry." He said he believes "strongly" that the U.S. industry can compete globally if everyone is trading on equal terms.Noting that tariff cuts are on the agenda of the on-going WTO negotiations, Leonard said the U.S. is looking for other nations to "do a lot more" in terms of reducing their tariffs before the U.S. agrees to put further cuts in its tariffs.He concluded his briefing by saying no decision has been made with respect to a request from the U.S. industry to impose special quotas on Chinese textile and apparel imports that have risen sharply since the beginning of this year.By James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent September 2002




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