WASHINGTON — The American Textile Manufacturers Institute has asked Commerce Department officials to stem the flood of five textile product imports from China — the first such request filed under a special deal China made to secure its World Trade Organization membership.
The petition filed last week, but announced Thursday, asks for import quota on Chinese bras, knit fabric, gloves, nightwear and luggage. Shipments of these products have surged after quota restrictions were lifted on them Jan. 1, as part of the third stage of a global quota phaseout of textile and apparel import limits.
Unlike other WTO members, China’s textile and apparel imports removed from quota restrictions under the phaseout are still subject to new limits if spikes in shipments cause or threaten to cause market disruptions. This China-specific safeguard provision exists until Dec. 31, 2008, and can be used by all WTO members. China became a WTO member Jan. 1.
In the second quarter, China overtook Mexico and Canada, the number one and two suppliers respectively, of textiles and apparel to the U.S., despite the NAFTA partners having duty-free, as well as quota-free, import benefits.
During the April-June period, China’s textile and apparel shipments climbed 123.5 percent, accounting for 9 percent of all U.S. imports of textiles and apparel. The petition will now be weighed by officials with Commerce’s Committee to Implement Textile Agreements.