By  on November 15, 2007

WASHINGTON — The top executives of several retailers and apparel brands sent a letter Wednesday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) and Republican leaders urging them to refrain from voting on legislation that would impose sanctions on imports from China.

Chief executive officers H. Lee Scott of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., William L. McComb of Liz Claiborne Inc., A.J. Lafley of Procter & Gamble Co., Wesley R. Card of Jones Apparel Group Inc., Burt Tansky of the Neiman Marcus Group Inc., Mackey McDonald of VF Corp., Mark Parker of Nike Inc., Robert Skinner of Kellwood Co. and Myron E. Ullman 3rd of J.C. Penney Co. Inc. joined the top executives from Columbia Sportswear Co., Chico's FAS Inc., AnnTaylor Stores Corp. and Warnaco Inc. in expressing their concern to lawmakers about China legislation.

"We, for example, are opposed to bills and amendments that establish unilateral trade penalties that will likely be found to violate our international obligations and invite reciprocal action," the fashion industry chiefs said in the letter. "We believe a more effective and prudent course of action is to continue to engage directly with the Chinese government on issues of mutual concern."

House Democratic leaders have said there is not enough time to consider legislation targeting China's undervalued currency practices this year, but they plan to take it up next year. They and domestic textile firms charge that China undervalues its currency by not floating it on the open market and illegally subsidizes its industry, thereby exposing U.S.-made product to unfair competition.

The Bush administration has tried to urge the Chinese through diplomacy to reform their currency policy, but recently brought a case to the World Trade Organization over unfair subsidies.

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