By  on March 28, 2005

WASHINGTON — U.S. trade officials will meet with their Chinese counterparts Tuesday as the Bush administration faces intensifying pressure to curb imports of Chinese apparel and textiles.

A Chinese Ministry of Commerce delegation will sit down with officials from the U.S. Commerce Department and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative as part of a dialogue between the countries under the auspices of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce & Trades.

Among the issues on the agenda are textiles, China’s bid for market-economy status, export promotion and intellectual property rights enforcement, a Commerce spokeswoman said.

The Chinese are expected to try to convince the U.S. to forgo imposing import quotas on textiles and apparel, and underscore their efforts to control their trade.

A person familiar with the talks said discussions will center on why a gap exists between Chinese export data and U.S. import data. “At least one of the reasons is transshipments from Hong Kong,” the person said. “That is why the U.S. [import numbers] are larger than the Chinese numbers.”

Tensions are rising over China’s growing dominance of global apparel and textile production, which may imperil the jobs of 30 million workers worldwide. A coalition of textile and fiber producers and organized labor is poised to file new China safeguard petitions based on actual market disruption.

Opinion is still divided over whether the administration will self-initiate China safeguard quotas as part of a deal to garner support for the Central American Free Trade Agreement, a cornerstone of the President’s trade agenda that faces a battle in Congress.

The coalition filed 12 safeguard petitions based on the threat of market disruption in October, targeting $1.9 billion in Chinese imports from further restraints, but those petitions have been caught up in a legal battle and suspended by a preliminary injunction for almost three months.

In the meantime, imports from China flooded the U.S. market in January, prompting House members from textile-producing states to ratchet up the pressure on the Bush administration to impose safeguard quotas on China based on actual market disruption

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