By  on October 29, 2007

WASHINGTON — After scrutinizing Vietnamese apparel imports for six months, the Commerce Department decided against initiating an antidumping trade case that could have boosted tariffs and made it more expensive to import goods from the country.

“The department will continue to monitor apparel imports from Vietnam until the end of the [Bush] administration,” David Spooner, assistant secretary for import administration, said in a statement outlining the results of the review.

Foreign producers are judged to be dumping when they sell goods in the U.S. for less than the cost of production or below the sale price in their home market.

The monitoring program examined data through July and was focused on the total trade and unit values of 486 types of trousers, shirts, underwear, swimwear and sweaters. Vietnam imported 169 of the goods reviewed and the unit values on some trended upward.

The unit value and import level of the goods that Vietnam shipped were compared with similar imports from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Macau, Cambodia, the Philippines, the Dominican Republic and five Central American countries.

The department stopped its review after making the comparison because there was no indication of dumping.

“We didn’t see any reason to move forward deeper into the analysis,” said Matt Priest, deputy assistant secretary for textiles and apparel.

The next review, based on import figures though January, will begin in March.

“The working,” said Cass Johnson, president of the National Council of Textile Organizations. “Vietnam is making an effort to prevent dumped apparel products.”

The threat of antidumping duties caused some U.S. firms to shy away from sourcing Vietnam, which still reported apparel imports for the first eight months of this year increased 27.3 percent to 809 million square meter equivalents. But the picture could change quickly.

“It’s very possible that these numbers could change, that dumped goods could start appearing,” said Johnson, who represents textile companies selling fabric to apparel factories in Central America that compete with Vietnamese producers.

The monitoring program is scheduled to end with the Bush administration in January 2009, though the future will depend on who becomes the next president, given the pressure the textile industry is sure to bring on restraining what it deems to be unfair competition.Importers have grudgingly accepted the monitoring regimen, which was created last year to ease the concerns of Sens. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) and Elizabeth Dole (R., N.C.) and caught the importers and brands by surprise.

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