Importers Attack Vietnam Monitoring Program

The New York City-based United States
Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel (USA-ITA) has blasted the Bush administration’s
plan to closely monitor imports of five “sensitive” categories of apparel from Vietnam and urged
the Department of Commerce (DOC) drop the plan, because no apparel manufacturers support it. The
department says it plans initially to monitor imports of trousers, shirts, sweaters, underwear and
swimwear as part of a commitment to determine whether Vietnamese imports are disrupting the US
market illegally. The monitoring program has the strong support of US textile manufacturers, who
contend Vietnam has a long history of disrupting markets with illegally dumped goods.

The Bush administration committed to the monitoring program as part of a deal made with US
Sens. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who during the past session of Congress
were blocking approval of permanent normal trade relations (PNTR) status for Vietnam. PNTR was an
essential step in clearing the way for Vietnam to join the World Trade Organization.

In comments filed with the DOC, the Washington-based National Council of Textile
Organizations (NCTO) said that “at a minimum” the DOC should closely scrutinize the sensitive
import categories, and it should monitor others as data warrant. “Given Vietnam’s track record, it
is highly likely that dumping will indeed occur,” the NCTO filing said.

Textile and apparel importers are not buying into that at all. Describing the monitoring
program an attempt by the US yarn and fabric industry to “divert attention from its own
anti-competitive agenda,” USA-ITA Executive Director Laura E. Jones said: “The government knows
that the support for this apparel monitoring program comes solely from the US textile industry,
which doesn’t make apparel and has no business speaking for apparel. In fact in some 20 written
comments submitted to the Commerce Department, there was not one from a US apparel producer
favoring monitoring.”

Jones said the process is “entirely backwards,” and that the first step should be to
identify whether there are any US apparel makers that compete with apparel imports from Vietnam.
She charged the government “shot first” and only now is asking questions, and she warned that US
retailers and consumers will pay the price.

February 6, 2007