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WASHINGTON — The Bangladeshi Embassy has asked the Commerce Department to let it use some of next year’s quota to end a lockout of more than 150,000 dozen pairs of cotton pants, which have been unable to enter the U.S. since the country met its quota for the year.

This story first appeared in the August 26, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Retailers and importers have been aggressively lobbying Commerce as wll, since the cap of 3.8 million dozen men’s and women’s cotton trousers filled on July 31. But the Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements has already denied a request by Bangladesh to allow it to use other available quotas for the pants.

Now, the Bangladeshis have made a new request for a special carry-forward to get the thousands of pairs of cotton trousers into the U.S.

Three large retailers, including Sears, Roebuck & Co., cannot get a combined total of 80,000 dozen cotton trousers into the U.S due to the embargo, according to Ross Arnold, an international trade specialist at the Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles and Apparel.

He said Bangladesh Embassy officials claim about 150,000 dozens are either waiting in U.S. ports, on the water or ready to be shipped from the country.

“It’s having a significant impact on our business,” said a Sears spokeswoman. “There is quite a bit of merchandise stuck in U.S. ports.”

She said the company has been working with government leaders to resolve the issue.

“We’re launching new brands, and our product is stuck,” she said.

A Commerce official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said overallocation of quotas of this magnitude rarely happens in the middle of the year.

“Most requests for [carry-forward] have been turned down over the years,” the official said. “This is a very large quantity and a very sensitive product, but there is a lot of concern out there and CITA will look at it starting Monday.”

Erik Autor, vice president of international trade and general counsel at the National Retail Federation dismissed concerns that this concession to Bangladesh would prompt other countries to exceed their quotas.

“I don’t see why others would be anxious for relief when it puts them in a more difficult position next year,” he said. “The distinguishing feature of this request is that goods are being held now as a result of the problem and it’s hurting a whole range of American companies.”