US considering separate textile discussions with China

The Bush administration is considering the possibility of separating textile discussions in on-going multilateral trade negotiations amid warnings that China will soon monopolize the textile industry. New data compiled by the National Council of Textile Manufacturers shows that at China ‘s current growth rate it will have 70 percent import market share in the United States and European Union in categories not covered under the current U.S. comprehensive textile agreement reached in 2005.

U.S. manufacturers have been calling on negotiators to handle talks separately in non-agricultural market access discussions in order to prevent China from monopolizing the entire market. They claim without any action by WTO negotiators to curb China ‘s growth, surging cheap imports will dissolve other export markets for the developing world after the three-year quota system expires.

According to figures by the NCTO, Chinese apparel categories where quotas were removed in 2005 increased Beijing’s market share in the United States from 16 percent to 39 percent, and, in the EU from 27 percent to 48 percent. Industry leaders also say the only solution is to maintain quotas on Chinese apparel exports. For example, in apparel categories where quotas had been re-imposed on Chinese exports they only grew by $2.1 billion

“The global textile and apparel sector is simply too critical and too sensitive to be handled in a generic fashion as part of the overall non-agricultural market access (NAMA) negotiations,” said U.S. textile groups. “Failure to address the unique needs and concerns of this industrial sector could have disastrous consequences for all involved, most especially for smaller developing and least developed nations.”

Quotas on Chinese apparel products cover nearly 60 percent of apparel imports into the United States and 50 percent of apparel imports into the European, which is nearly a $60 billion export businesses that the developing world will quickly lose once these quotas disappear.

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