WASHINGTON — Quota removal gave China the momentum it needed to become the number-one supplier of apparel and textile imports to the U.S. in 2002 and push overall imports for the sector to new highs.

The record import numbers come at a time when the U.S. is negotiating a bilateral textile and apparel trade pact with Vietnam to control some of its explosive trade with quotas, while it simultaneously considers a separate request to place quotas on certain imports from China.

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