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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 December, 2004, 12:50 GMT
US importers back China textiles
Chinese textile fair
China is objecting to the proposed US import quotas
Textile importers and retailers have sued the US Government to block a proposed limit on imports from China.

Producers have asked for textile quotas because they say Chinese imports will damage the domestic industry.

The Commerce Department and four other government agencies are investigating the allegations.

But the US Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel (USA-ITA) says the case is based on inaccurate information and violates importers' rights.

According to Laura Jones, USA-ITA's executive director, the rules for the government agencies - which together make up the Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements (CITA) - ban petitions such as those from the textile industry.

Among the organisation's members are:
Giorgio Armani
JC Penney
Levi Strauss

CITA had changed the rules based "on some future threat", she said.

"The government is accepting petitions that don't even meet its own limited standards. The government's behaviour is outrageous."

China objects

US textile manufacturers made the petitions based on a safeguard arrangement agreed with China during its entry negotiations with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 2001.

The agreement gives WTO members the right to impose temporary quotas if Chinese imports are found to cause market disruption.

But China has said that any import quotas placed on its textiles would have an impact on bilateral trade ties and warned that it might take the dispute WTO.

The USA-ITA lawsuit could boost China's position in the argument.

The new developments come weeks before the expiration of the Multi-Fibre Agreement, signed 10 years ago with the aim of preventing any single country dominating the world's textile market.

Textile industry analysts expect that China, which currently has 20% of the global textile trade and 28% of trade in clothing, will be the biggest gainer when the MFA expires on at the end of this year.

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