WASHINGTON — The U.S. has embargoed cotton trousers from Bangladesh, after all of its quota in those categories was filled last Friday.
The embargo will be the first of the year on apparel and textile products and falls fairly early in the year. Bangladesh’s quota limit on women’s, girls’, men’s and boys’ cotton trousers — a category in high demand — stands at 3.77 million dozens, according to Donald Foote, director of the agreements division at the Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles and Apparel.
"It’s unusual to have an embargo so early in the year," said Foote. "Usually, embargoes start in the fall."
He said Bangladesh consistently fills its apparel quotas. Last year, Customs placed embargoes on cotton and manmade fiber coats from Bangladesh. Bangladesh is the fifth-largest supplier of cotton trousers to the U.S., representing 3.7 percent of the import share in the United States for the year ending May, according to Commerce.
"Cotton trousers are the bread and butter category for the industry," Foote said.
Total world imports for the category in the year ended May 31 were 127 million dozen, according to Foote. Mexico is the number-one supplier of cotton trousers, followed by the Dominican Republic, Hong Kong and Honduras.
"The fact is that all over the world there isn’t enough quota in the cotton bottoms category," said Julia Hughes, vice president of international trade at the U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles & Apparel.
"Bangladesh appears to have made serious errors in quota allocation, and once again U.S. importers are paying the price because they can’t get products in," she added.
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