By  on March 23, 2006

WASHINGTON — U.S. Customs & Border Protection said Wednesday it has made 26 seizures of Chinese apparel and textile imports valued at $6 million that violated a special import restraint agreement between the two nations.

Janet Labuda, director of Customs' Textile Enforcement & Operations division, said the seized goods were "misdescribed" to circumvent the quotas on certain Chinese imports. The products covered a whole range of categories, she said.

"CBP is charged with enforcing trade laws and we continue to be focused on the circumvention of quotas," Acting Commissioner Deborah J. Spero said in a statement.

The Bush administration, under pressure from domestic manufacturers and Congress, signed an agreement with China in November that restricts 34 types of apparel and textile imports, valued at more than $6 billion annually, through 2008.

Customs made the seizures over the past three weeks, bringing the value of apparel and textile products seized in fiscal year 2006 to more than $20 million.

Early last month, Customs announced it had seized $10 million worth of cotton and man-made apparel imports from China over a four-month period that were misclassified as ramie products in what it deemed a "scheme to circumvent the China safeguards by misdescribing cotton merchandise as ramie, which has a much lower rate of duty."

As a result, Customs began reducing the amount of Chinese cotton and man-made fiber trousers and cotton knit shirts allowed to enter the country because of the fraudulent classifications. Those categories were embargoed because they had reached quota limits in July and August. The U.S. then started allowing a percentage of the shipments that had been in storage to enter on Feb. 1.

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