By and  on November 15, 2004

WASHINGTON — The coalition of apparel and textile groups claiming Chinese imports pose a threat to U.S. production filed its ninth quota safeguard petition on Friday covering imports of men’s and boys’ wool trousers, a category that was valued at $14 million in 2003.

China controls a 4.5 percent share of U.S. imports of wool trousers, which represented a 57 percent decrease over the last 12 months. In 2002, the latest figures available, the U.S. produced 512,000 dozen men’s and boys’ wool trousers with an estimated value of $143.4 million, according to the coalition.

The American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, National Council of Textile Organizations, SEAMS, UNITE HERE, American Fiber Manufacturers Association and National Cotton Council are targeting $1.96 billion in imports from China for continued quota restraints next year in a series of petitions that ask the U.S. government to restrain growth of certain categories of goods from the Asian nation.

The interagency Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements has 15 business days to review the petition and determine whether it meets the merits for a full review. CITA has already accepted six of the coalition’s petitions for a full 60-day review and will investigate whether the products covered in the petitions, including cotton trousers, knit shirts and blouses, are causing or threaten to cause market disruption.

CITA determined last year that imports were causing market disruption and imposed safeguard quotas on bras, dressing gowns and robes and knit fabric. Those categories were all given 7.5 percent annual growth caps. The coalition is planning to file renewals on those categories because the quota limits expire at year’s end. CITA recently imposed safeguard quotas on imports of socks from China, capping their growth at 6 percent over last year’s trade.

Also on Friday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick rejected a request by 30 members of Congress to investigate whether China is depressing its currency by as much as 40 percent and in turn fueling U.S. demand for low-cost Chinese imports, including apparel and textiles, at the expense of American manufacturers.

Eight senators, including one Republican, and 22 Democratic House members said China’s yuan is artificially low and shouldn’t be pegged to the dollar. Two of the lawmakers filing the formal request, Sens. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), are threatening to push legislation slapping tariffs of up to 40 percent on Chinese goods if the yuan isn’t allowed to float according to world currency markets.

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