WASHINGTON — An interagency government group said Tuesday it will move forward with three petitions requesting safeguard action against Chinese imports, but it rejected a fourth petition for gloves, saying it needed more information.

Members of a textile and fiber coalition that filed the petitions to impose quotas on ballooning imports from China said Tuesday they would resubmit the petition on gloves.

Jim Leonard, chairman of the Committee for the Implementation of Textile Agreements — the interagency Commerce group examining and judging the petitions — notified textile and fiber executives of the development Tuesday in a letter, a copy of which was obtained by WWD.

Leonard said CITA would move forward on the petitions for cotton and man-made fiber dressing gowns and robes, cotton and man-made fiber bras and knit fabric. But the agency rejected, on a technicality, the petition for cotton and man-made fiber gloves because the production data was not current and the industry groups failed to make a distinction between woven gloves, which are still under quota, and knit gloves, which are not, according to Leonard’s letter.

Leonard also said the coalition could resubmit the petition for knit gloves with production data for 2002, which is expected to be available by the end of this month, according to a Commerce official.

The coalition has launched an aggressive lobbying effort to protect what is left of the industry from Chinese imports it claims are eviscerating the domestic industry. The textile industry has lost a combined 152,200 jobs since President Bush took office in January 2001.

This is uncharted territory for the U.S. government, which negotiated a special deal with China when it entered the World Trade Organization. Under the textile safeguard, if the U.S. determines there has been market disruption, it must consult with China and can place quotas on an import category for up to a year. The quota will expire in a year unless it is renewed.

“[Commerce] asks us for all this data that in many cases they collect themselves. It’s absurd,” said Parks Shackelford, president at the American Textile Manufacturers Institute. He said the three petitions that were allowed to move forward are “a small step in the right direction.”The next step for the three petitions is a 30-day public comment period. CITA then has 60 days to make a determination on the petition after the comment period closes.

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