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Importers Outline Plan To Help Save The US Textile Industry

Washinigton Outlook

James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent

Importers Outline Plan ToHelp Save The US Textile IndustryCiting their concern about the health and vitality of the US textile industry, four major trade associations representing textile and apparel importers have sent the White House a proposal designed to boost the domestic industrys competitiveness. The Textile Revitalization Act is sponsored by the National Retail Federation (NRF), US Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel, Americana ApparelandFootwear Association (AAFA), and the International Mass Retail Association. The proposal suggests short-, medium- and long-range programs including tax breaks, government assistance and duty and quota-free treatment of imported products containing US materials.In announcing the proposal, NRF Vice President Erik Autor said: The U.S. retail community is deeply concerned about the serious decline in the health and viability of our domestic industry. The textile industry should be an integral component of our global textiles and apparel manufacturing strategy, not relegated to a minor role watching from the sidelines. Stephen E. Lamar, vice president of the AAFA said, Its our pledge to work toward the objective of moving away from the failed model of protecting the US textile industry against import competition and moving toward constructive policies that truly increase its competitiveness.Textile industry reaction to the proposal was cautious and restrained. Auggie Tantillo, Washington coordinator for the American Manufacturing Trade Coalition, said industry representatives were not consulted prior to announcement of the proposal, and he is interested in seeing more details before reacting. Cass Johnson, interim president of the American Textile Manufacturers Institute, said that while some of the long-term structural changes suggested by the importers, their proposal fails to address the industrys biggest problem surging Chinese imports. He said that unless the government effectively addresses the China problem, the industry might not be around to benefit from the long-term proposals.The importers legislative package would include the following provisions:Short Term - elimination of duties on imports manufactured from US cotton, yarn or fabric; elimination of quotas on imports manufactured from US yarn or fabric; elimination of duties on capital equipment import purchases, chemicals and dyes; and a study on international textile mill costs to determine competitive shortfalls.Medium Term low interest federal loans for capital investment by textile companies; government-funded research and development; and funding for US textile companies in trade preference countries so they can take advantage of trade agreement incentives;Long Term reduction or elimination of corporate income taxes; shorter equipment depreciation periods; and extension of net-operating loss programs and other tax incentives that would apply both to the textile business and other industries.While the proposal has been sent to the White House, no specific legislation has been introduced, but importers hope something can be before Congress by the end of this year.By James A. Morrissey, Washington Correspondent October 2003