GATT PLAN TO APPEAR IN FEDERAL REGISTER

Byline: Jim Ostroff

WASHINGTON--The Clinton administration will publish in the Federal Register today its initial schedule for phasing out quota under the GATT Uruguay Round, and importer and retailer representatives are already calling the schedule a sham designed to protect U.S. apparel and textile manufacturers.
The directive issued by the Inter-agency Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements lists 180 products that would enter the U.S. without quota when the Uruguay Round is implemented, likely on Jan 1, 1995. The agreement calls for three stages, in which textile and apparel import quotas will be lifted gradually, until 51 percent of the products traded in 1990 will be quota-free after 10 years. Remaining quota will be eliminated after 10 years and one day, when the Multi-Fiber Arrangement, now governing international textile trade, is eliminated.
Of the 180 items listed, none were restrained by quotas in 1990. They include such things as ski-snowmobile gloves with plastic or rubber, trousers made of synthetic fibers and containing down and cotton tents.
"The Clinton administration has made a mockery of the textile and apparel reforms negotiated in the Uruguay Round by publishing a phaseout proposal that contains nothing of interest to the American consumer," said Laura Jones, executive director of the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel. The Uruguay Round pact, which still awaits Congressional approval, allows the U.S. to decide what products should be assigned to each stage of the phaseout.
Jones said that by loading the first stage, which lasts for three years, with products already quota-free rather than items requested by industry, such as children's wear and T-shirts, "the Clinton administration has created an illusion only surpassed by Houdini."
"This confirms American consumers have lost yet another battle with the Clinton administration," said Robert Hall, a National Retail Federation vice president.

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