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CITA Accepts Petitions For Relief From Chinese Imports

James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

CITA Accepts Petitions For Relief From Chinese ImportsThe Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements (CITA) has agreed to accept three of the four petitions for relief from surging textile and apparel imports filed by a domestic industry coalition. CITA said it will begin reviewing the petitions covering imports of knit fabric, man-made fiber dressing gowns and robes, and cotton and man-made fiber brassieres. CITA did not accept a petition covering man-made fiber gloves, saying it needed more information. A spokesman for the coalition said that petition will be resubmitted with the additional information CITA is seeking.The action starts in motion a fairly lengthy procedure that will be sharply challenged by US retailers and other importing interests.The agreement under which China entered the World Trade Organization provides for use of a safeguard mechanism to deal with import surges that cause or threaten to cause market disruption. CITA now will receive public comments for 30 days, and then it must determine within another 60 days whether the request for relief is valid. If it makes such a finding, the US will enter into bilateral negotiations with China and if bilateral negotiations are not satisfactory, the US may impose unilateral quotas.The United States Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel (USITA) sharply attacked the petitions, saying they are deficient and an attempt to use the China textile safeguard procedures as a mechanism to eliminate the need for US textile companies to prepare for the end of quotas in 2005. USITAs Executive Director Laura Jones said the domestic textile companies are counting on public relations, not facts, to force the Bush administration to capitulate to their demands. She charged that the textile industrys efforts are all smoke and mirrors and said her member companies would call on CITA to reject the filings as inadequate.Allen Gant, CEO of Glen Raven Inc., and the second vice president of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute, said, The orderly development of trade in the US textile and apparel market is not merely threatened, it is under an unprecedented attack from a flood of illegally subsidized Chinese imports. He said imports in the four product categories where relief is being sought have increased by 920 percent over the past 17 months.By James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent August 2003