WASHINGTON — If China’s unfettered trade continues growing at the rate it is today, the U.S. apparel and textile industry stands to lose 630,000 jobs and 1,300 textile plants by 2006, according to an in-house report compiled by the American Textile Manufacturers Institute.

“If China follows the same pattern in 2005, when the bulk of its quotas will be removed, then China’s share of the U.S. textile and apparel market will rise to over two-thirds of the U.S. market within 24 months,” the report stated.

For the year ended April 30, apparel and textile imports from China rose 136 percent to 6.15 billion square meters equivalent and is valued at $10.02 billion. China’s current share of the U.S. import market is 15.27 percent.

The report is the latest move in a coordinated effort among six textile trade and lobbying groups to pressure the Bush administration to invoke a special textile and apparel safeguard against China.

The united effort is working on a petition seeking to reimpose several quotas that were lifted on imports of apparel and textiles from China as part of a 10-year phaseout set to expire on Dec. 31, 2004. Under terms of China’s World Trade Organization membership agreement, countries can impose category-specific limits for up to one year if Chinese imports are causing market disruption.

Julia Hughes, vice president of international trade at the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles & Apparel, dismissed the ATMI analysis, calling the assumptions “totally hypothetical.”

“This seems like a political statement, not an economic analysis,” she said. “They are making draconian assertions and their methodology does not back them up.”

In its analysis, the ATMI studied China’s import growth during the past 15 months in 29 apparel categories, including silk- and vegetable-blend suits, dresses, skirts, woven shirts and knit shirts, as well as cotton and man-made fiber bras and nightwear, where the quota was removed in January 2002.

According to the report, China increased its exports in the 29 categories by $980 million in 2002, while all other suppliers saw their exports drop by $813 million. The trend also accelerated in the first quarter of 2003, when the 29 Chinese imports rose by $493 million, compared with the first quarter of 2002, while imports for the rest of the world fell by $71 million, according to the ATMI.The report’s conclusions are based on a sharp drop in Chinese prices once quotas on apparel products were removed in 2002. Last year, the average Chinese price fell by 44 percent, declining from $6.23 a square meter to $3.37 a square meter, according to the report.

Hughes noted that the ATMI did not mention that many countries have increased their market share in many of these 29 categories where quotas were removed, despite China’s dominance.

ATMI also claimed in the analysis that $42 billion in export trade is expected to shift to China from Mexico, Central America and sub-Saharan Africa and other nations in two years.

load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus