More Safeguard Petitions Filed

Just as temporary quotas closed on importing Chinese-made cotton knit tops, cotton pants and underwear, members of the apparel and textile industry filed more safeguard petitions to limit bringing in five more types of clothing made in China.

Safeguard petitions were filed on July 11 with the Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements to limit imports of swimwear, non-knit shirts, skirts, and pajamas and nightwear. A petition to limit sock imports was filed July 8.

“We’re filing these petitions because of the extreme disruption in the American textile industry caused by an unprecedented flood of imports from China,” noted Karl Spilhaus, president of the National Textile Association in Washington, D.C., one of the groups filing the petitions.

Auggie Tantillo, head of the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, another participating Washington, D.C., trade group, promised that more safeguard petitions will be filed later this year. “The U.S. textile industry will keep filing petitions until the United States and China reach a comprehensive agreement to moderate the growth of Chinese textile and apparel imports to a reasonable level through the end of 2008,” Tantillo said in a published statement.

Other groups participating in the safeguard petitions were the National Council of Textile Organizations and UNITE HERE, a labor union representing garment, textile and laundry workers.

The petitioners noted that since the beginning of the year, imports of skirts from China rose 879 percent, imports of non-knit shirts increased 463 percent, and imports of pajamas and nightwear grew 647 percent.

U.S. officials were in China on July 11 to negotiate a comprehensive textile and apparel agreement similar to the one recently negotiated between China and the European Union. That agreement limits China’s apparel exports on 10 items through the end of 2007. But no such agreement with the United States was reached during initial talks.

The newest set of safeguard petitions came just days after quotas to import Chinese-made cotton knit tops, cotton pants and underwear were filled, meaning that no goods in these categories can be imported until the beginning of next year.

Other apparel categories with quotas that will be filled by mid-July to early August are synthetic knit tops, men’s and boys’ woven tops, and synthetic pants.

The Bush administration is still considering safeguard petitions filed for sweaters, bras, dressing gowns, and men’s and boys’ wool pants. —Deborah Belgum