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ATMI Condemns New Vietnam Agreement

ATMI Condemns New Vietnam AgreementDespite numerous assurances to the American textile industry that it would not be traded away in future negotiations, the US government announced late Friday night the signing of an agreement that gives Vietnam the most generous access to the US textile market ever granted in an initial bilateral textile agreement. In reaction, Willis C. Moore III, chairman of ATMI, issued the following statement. "This unfortunate agreement is coming at a very difficult time for the American textile industry. We are deeply dismayed that by signing it, the US government appears to have abandoned its commitments to the textile industry and our associates, and to textile state representatives. By granting Vietnam the largest quotas in history for the most sensitive products made by this industry, the US negotiators have ensured that more textile plants will close in the United States and more textile jobs will be lost in this deeply distressed industry. This agreement trades away good paying American jobs to a communist country so that importing interests can save pennies per garment. Make no mistake, these quotas are enormous just one of them in the category of knit shirts is set at 164 million shirts, or one shirt for every adult person in the United States. (Note a fact sheet is attached.)The Vietnam agreement was agreed to despite the strongest opposition from the US textile industry and in spite of valiant efforts by textile supporters in Congress. ATMI thanks the many textile supporters in Congress who sought at the highest levels to prevent this conclusion.Administration officials have said Judge us by our actions, not just our words. Fair enough- - the US government gave Vietnam textile access to our market amounting to more than 600 million square meters, an increase of 625 percent over the 83 million square meters Vietnam was shipping when the government announced last September it was time to negotiate an agreement. In their efforts to get Vietnam to sign an agreement, our negotiators literally doubled and tripled the quota offers that they had made just two months ago, after acknowledging that the Vietnams government-owned and subsidized textile sector posed a potent threat to our workers.It is increasingly hard for this industry to reconcile the governments action with the words of Commerce Secretary Evans fourteen months ago when he stood before us and said, We know what you are going through. Know that the textile industry now has a friend in Washington. As Vietnams trade has surged, US textile industry losses have accelerated, with the industry losing nearly $200 million in the fourth quarter. Last month alone, industry job losses accelerated with almost 3,000 jobs lost. As subsidized Vietnamese imports flood in, American textile jobs wash out. It is as simple as that. For our part, we appeal to the government to re-examine its priorities and to review the many public commitments made to this industry, its supporters in Congress and to its workers." More Information on the Bilateral Textile Agreement with Vietnam1. Distressed state of U.S. textile industryThe government reported last week that the industry, which is still in the midst of its worst downturn since the Great Depression, lost another 2,900 jobs in February as industry sales dropped sharply. On April 16th, the government reported that the textile industry went deeply into the red in the fourth quarter of 2002, losing nearly $200 million. The industry has closed more than 150 textile mills in the last two years and lost more than 90,000 jobs.2. Promises to industry brokenThe administration has promised the industry that textile trade concerns would be at the top of its trade agenda, that it would minimize the impact of trade agreements on the industry and that it was committed to the economic well being of the industry. The Administration has assured the industry that it "now has a friend in Washington" and has asked the industry to "judge us by our actions, not by our words." Regarding these negotiations, government negotiators repeatedly promised that Vietnams tactic of delaying negotiations would not succeed in building higher quota levels. 3. Government breaks practice of 40 years in order to give Vietnam biggest deal in historyThe agreement gives Vietnam access worth more than $2 billion, the largest amount ever given in an initial textile agreement. The agreement also breaks with a 40-year plus history of the US textile program by awarding Vietnam quotas based on current trade rather than on base levels set during the initial negotiation. 4. US gives Vietnam the worlds biggest quotas in domestic industrys most sensitive productsThe enormous quotas for woven trousers and knit shirts, the industrys two most sensitive products, account for more than half ($1.1 billion) of the $2 billion-plus value of the access the US government granted Vietnam. At 164 million shirts, the Vietnamese quota for cotton knit shirts is larger than those of China, Thailand, Bangladesh, Cambodia and the Philippines combined. This single quota, almost twice the next largest in the world, is equal to one shirt for the every adult in the US The quota is nearly three times the US offer made just two months ago. The quota for cotton woven trousers is 84 million trousers, or equal to one pair of trousers for every adult male in the United States. It is bigger than the combined quotas for China, India, Thailand and Pakistan, and more than twice the size of the US offer made just two months ago.5. Despite US negotiators promises, Vietnam is allowed to delay and build tradeDespite repeated assurances by US negotiators that Vietnams tactic of delaying negotiations in order to build ever higher quota levels would not succeed, the new agreement includes all of the trade that Vietnam built up through negotiating delays and even includes hefty increases, ranging from 10 percent to, in one case, 60 percent. After the US stated in September a bilateral had become necessary, Vietnam delayed negotiations for seven months while building up trade from 84 million square meters (YE September) to an agreement that included access for 600-plus million square meters , an increase of 614 percent or more than 500 million square meters from the September date. 6. One-quarter of trade not even coveredDespite assurances that the agreement would be comprehensive, the government also failed to get any controls over almost one-quarter of the textile and apparel imports ($300 million) coming from Vietnam. These include such important categories as man-made fiber mens and womens coats, textile luggage and dresses. These imports are currently growing at 1,000-plus percent per year. ATMI April 2003 Press Release