Senate Supports Textile Industry Trade Agenda

Textile state senators have added key elements of the domestic industrys trade agenda to
legislation granting President Bush expanded trade negotiating authority. The amendments to the
Trade Promotion Authority Act (TPA) would require other nations to open their markets to textile
and apparel exports and also to protect United States anti-dumping laws, which the textile industry
frequently has used to combat unfair trade practices.An amendment sponsored by Sen. John Edwards
(D-N.C.) would write into law the negotiating objectives of the domestic industry in connection
with the current World Trade Organization (WTO) trade liberalization talks and any other bi-lateral
trade agreements. The Edwards amendment states the “Principal negotiating objectives of the United
States, with respect to trade in textile and apparel articles, is to obtain competitive opportunity
for United States exports of textiles and apparel in foreign markets.” To accomplish this, the
amendment would require other nations to reduce their tariff levels to the same or lower levels as
the U.S. by a certain date and eliminate non-tariff barriers to trade in textiles and apparel. The
amendment, co-sponsored by Senators Max Cleland (D-Ga.), Zell Miller (D-Ga.), George Allen (R-Va.),
Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.) and Jesse Helms (R-N.C), was approved by a substantial margin of 66 to 33.
Van May, president, American Textile Manufacturers Institute (ATMI), praised the senate action. ”
The senate recognizes that fairness must be a key objective in textile trade negotiations, and by
adopting the Edwards Amendment, the senate has served notice that the U.S. textile industry is not
to be given away in future trade talks,” he said. In a related development, the senate adopted
another amendment that would exempt U.S. anti-dumping, countervailing duty and other trade remedy
laws from the so called “fast track” procedure whereby trade agreements cannot be amended by
Congress. The amended version of the TPA bill provides that if any trade agreement negotiated under
fast track procedures includes changes to U.S. trade laws, the proposed changes would be subject to
regular congressional procedures, including full debate and amendment. That amendment was a major
setback for the Bush administration and importers who believe it undercuts their ability to
negotiate trade agreements.The senate is expected to pass the final version of the bill by its
Memorial Day recess starting May 24, and the bill would then have to be reconciled with an already
approved House version of Trade Promotion Authority.