By  on May 9, 2006

WASHINGTON — David Spooner, one of the architects of the trade pact that laid out the scope of imports from China through the end of 2008, is no longer in the white-hot center of apparel and textiles politics, but still has a hand in trade and a soft spot for the sector.

Spooner, 36, became assistant secretary for import administration at the Commerce Department in December after a nearly four-year stint as special textile negotiator in the U.S. Trade Representative's office.

Dealing with the nuances of trade law is a natural for the Virginia native, who in an interview said he "thoroughly enjoyed" the rigors of law school at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va.

After getting his law degree, Spooner wanted to do something vital and headed to Capitol Hill. He held several jobs there before managing Rep. Sue Myrick's (R., N.C.) Washington office, a career move that netted Spooner what he described as some of his best career advice. It came from Dave Redmond, whom he was replacing in the position.

"He said, ‘Unless you want to be a political hack your whole life, keep your finger in at least one substantive issue that you'll enjoy,' and so for me, that was trade," said Spooner.

He certainly had an impact on the apparel and textile world, helping to negotiate various trade pacts that caused their share of controversy, such as a bilateral trade pact with Vietnam and the Central American Free Trade Agreement, in addition to the import restraint pact with China.

Spooner left his post at USTR shortly after the China deal was signed in November. That agreement limits the imports of 34 types of apparel and textiles from China and, at least for now, has eliminated the stop-and-start of safeguard quotas.

Safeguards were a condition of China's entry into the World Trade Organization and allowed the U.S. to impose temporary restraints on imports when the market was being flooded. In practice, though, safeguards were unpredictable and made life difficult for importers. Safeguards are still allowed in the U.S.-China deal for categories not under quota, but the U.S. agreed to use "restraint" in applying them.

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