TEXTILE INTERESTS ON CAPITOL HILL WRITE LETTERS TO DEFLECT GAO PROBE OF CITA

Byline: Joyce Barrett

WASHINGTON--More than 50 senators and representatives, anticipating a government investigation of the administration's Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements, have written Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and Comptroller General Charles A. Bowsher to defend CITA.
Two letters went out April 6 that defended CITA's methods of monitoring import surges and developing a schedule for eliminating textile and apparel quotas, as the GATT Uruguay Round is phased in.
There has been no official request for a General Accounting Office probe of CITA, but it's expected within the week and preliminary investigations have begun. House Trade Subcommittee chairman Phil Crane (R., Ill.) is expected to make the request.
A House aide close to the trade debate said retailers and importers have complained that CITA acts behind closed doors and doesn't tell the public how it makes its decisions. "We need some objective information so we can evaluate the allegations that have been made," the aide said.
The letters, organized by House Textile Caucus Chairman John Spratt (D., S.C.) and Rep. L.F. Payne (D., Va.), are intended to head off an investigation. The letter to Bowsher was signed by 47 members, while the Brown letter was signed by 53 members. Most of the signers represent domestic textile interests and organized labor, or have traditionally taken a more protectionist position on trade matters.
"Certain importers have expressed displeasure with the lack of transparency in CITA's operations...," read the letters, which are similar. "Some of the information it uses is classified government data. Consequently, CITA's deliberations must be confidential and are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act."

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